The suburbs have been a longstanding symbol of the traditional American dream. For many, the term “suburb” conjures thoughts of tree-lined streets with homes with manicured lawns and white picket fences. However, these seemingly perfect communities have significantly changed over the last few decades to fit the changing needs of residents.
Ahead, we discuss what suburbanization is, the driving forces behind suburbanization and how it differs from urbanization. In addition, we will explore the benefits and negative impacts of this phenomenon.
Put simply, suburbanization is the development of communities on the fringes of a city. This phenomenon is the result of social, economic and cultural factors.
The following are some of the main causes of suburbanization that have shaped the suburban landscape in states across the U.S. Over the last few centuries, these driving forces have had a significant impact on the country’s social, economic and infrastructure development.
In 1934, Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) as part of his New Deal program. Today, it remains an agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and was a contributing factor to suburbanization. One of the main goals of the FHA was to create job opportunities in the construction industry following the Great Depression, which led to more housing. In addition, the agency was developed to standardize neighborhood design and make mortgages more affordable.
The creation of transportation and related infrastructure has been a critical element of suburban development. As the population of cities grew, pathways for transportation were modernized to accommodate the increased number of traveling citizens. Railroads, trolleys and streetcars are all methods of transportation that evolved to serve the immediate needs of individuals in cities.
The eventual mass production of cars in the U.S. and the establishment of a network of sizable roads and highways provided families with the ability to travel from the city to the suburbs. Additionally, the development of U.S. freeways and highways in the late 1950s dramatically impacted suburbanization because it provided a way for people to easily commute to and from the city for work.
To inspire urban dwellers to move to the suburbs, companies and government agencies used marketing with motifs that played on the idea of the American Dream. This approach reinforced the belief that all individuals can acquire success and upward mobility in society. At the time, marketers made it seem that moving to a quieter, more “family-friendly” environment would help people lead better, happier lives. These marketing ploys played a significant role in motivating urban residents to move to the suburbs.
Urbanization and suburbanization represent opposite ways in which communities develop. Urbanization describes the growing concentration of people in cities and the infrastructure implemented to accommodate them. In cities, you will see taller buildings, more people walking on sidewalks and stores that offer amenities placed closer together to make them more accessible.
While suburban areas may offer some advantages, it is important to note that these benefits vary depending on individual preferences and other factors, such as infrastructure. Some of the most common include:
There are some benefits to suburban areas, but there are drawbacks, too. Some of the negative effects of suburbanization include: