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Thread: Loving suburbia!

  1. #26
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    Suburbia is not too bad...heck I live here. Granted, it's streetcar suburbia (1900-1930), but it's certainly not car free living either.

    I think a good distinction to make would be the kind of suburbia that's OK (subjective, I know).

    The suburbia Wanigas? describes probably is/was nice and accessible for the non-drivers and I have known similar suburbia and liked it. Now the suburbia that spunky2 describes is certainly the stereotypically reviled suburbia that everyone speaks of. I have also known that suburbia and can certainly attest to it's spirit crushing capability. There must have been some weird change around 1970 that sucked all the remaining soul out of new suburban development.

    But if one has to go low density residential living, I would prefer small town America. I grew up in a small city in northern Michigan. It was six miles end to end, but was an old(er) industrial city with lots of semi-abandoned places to explore and be harmlessly mischievous, which is essential for young male development .
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  2. #27
    Jun 2004
    My parents grew up in the city of St. Louis and bought a house way out from the City on an old farm. It was one of the only other new homes around. There was a little convenience shop, a corner bar and a few small service stores one block up. My parents eventually bought that store and ran it for some years. Then the houses started going in on the old farm when our friend moved "out to the country". I guess there was too much around him and he sold off the remainder of his property. Soon the area had tons of houses, lots of big cedar fences, etc. I lived there until I went to college. I still drive by all the time because my mom owns a different shop in the old nieghborhood. So yes I would definately say I grew up in suburbia but I loved it as well. We had open fields all around, shopping in walking distance and kids all around to play with.
    I currently live in suburbia as well. Cul-de-sac, houses all around, no where to walk to unless you want to walk a mile to 7-11 (I do if I want to get out but it is more convenient to jump in the car to go there. However, I also don't lock my doors, I know all of my nieghbors and I don't freak out if the 3 year old wonders into the street (or even plays in the street)...those are things I couldn't do in the city.
    If it were just me I would prefer to live in the city in an older, smaller home. But suburbia definately works for me right now.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
    Jul 2003
    Down by Dun Ringill
    Blog entries
    I spent ages 11-18 in the suburbs. Beat living in the city. Our subdivision had a lake and several hundred acres of woods surrounding it. Spent many an afternoon and day traipsing around the piney woods.

    We lived (my folks still do) in a gated community, which was intended to keep out those people. Though for years they have been trying to recruit a nice non-white New Orleans Saint to move into the subdivision. Just to do a little token representing, I guess. After several years I questioned whether the bad people were being kept out or in.

    But it was a nice Beaver Cleaver sort of existence with well-maintained streets and infrastructure.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  4. #29
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
    Aug 2001
    SERA Architects-Portland
    I was definitely raised in the burbs like many on here. Milford, Ohio, outside of Cincy, from '79-'84 (4th-8th grade) and Sandy, Utah, outside of SLC, for high school. Like Wanigas, had tons of freedom to ride my bike out of our neighborhood and up to about 3 miles away from about 5th grade on. Milford had enough to keep us entertained and mostly out of trouble. Great neighborhood (300 homes) with almost exclusively families and probably close to 600 kids of school age. And we could name every one of them.

    In Sandy, on the other hand, I couldn't get to much of anything without a car. Thankfully I was old enough to drive for most of it. About the only thing that I could walk to was the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon and hitchhike up to Snowbird or Alta!!

    And I only went through this little nostalgic trip to say that I think the burbs have changed significantly since the 80's. I know that I would not be allowed to make the same bike trips in Milford today as a 5th grader that I did then. The roads have gotten too big, too much traffic, too many dangers that a parent just couldn't control.

    Today, we live in the downtown area of Loveland (pop. 70k+/-) with a distinct purpose of being able to WALK to my daughter's school, WALK to the grocery store, WALK to restaurants and bars, WALK to the library and rec center, BIKE to the movies and BIKE to work a good portion of the year. It's a shame that public transportation can't get us to Ft. Collins or Denver more easily. We would never get rid of VW bus because we camp way too much, but it could almost become a weekend vehicle if the public transportation was better.

    Is Loveland the burbs or a city? A little of both. Most downtown residents still drive everywhere and then bitch that there is not enough parking in downtown. Well, genius, you just drove 4 blocks to meet your husband for dinner who drove 2 miles from work and now have taken up 2 parking spaces for your family of 3.4 people!!

  5. #30
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Dibs on the Northeast
    Quote Originally posted by spunky2
    I grew up in the standard 80's suburb. The closest bus stop was a 45-minute walk away. Just a sea of houses. I think we had one park and it was about a 30 minute walk away. And it was just baseball fields.
    This is also what I think of when I hear the word suburb. The earlier descriptions of being able to walk to several convenience stores, comic book/toy stores, and other places isn't a typical suburb in my area.
    Maybe that's the difference between suburbs and bedroom communities (and maybe my perception's a bit screwy), but it sounds to me like many people that described a good suburban upbringing grew up in a new urbanism-type of community which is, in my opinion, this middle ground between true urban and true SUB-urban.
    Also to some degree, I think if children grow up in a good atmosphere, they generally like it - whether urban, suburban, or rural. It brings back good memories, so we can't then categorize it as all bad.

    As for me, I actually wrote a paper in college about this very topic. And I came to the realization that if I had a good support system behind me (ie: family and friends to stand beside me), it didn't much matter to me where I lived. In my life -- living in downtown Stockholm, a cabin in the Adirondacks, a suburb of a declining city, and a small, small town -- I was only miserable when I didn't have some peops around me!
    Last edited by RandomPlanner; 01 Jul 2005 at 11:14 AM.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  6. #31
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
    Mar 2004
    No Where Man

    The Burbs are all right with me!!!

    I raised my kids in the burbs. Nice PUD with utilities underground, neighborhood trails, pool, tennis courts plus they saved the trees. Kids had friends to play with. Gave them a great childhood.
    I have lived in Boston and in Europe in big cities with mass transit and opera and I that was great then. But the burgs are where I am right now and that's all right with me!
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  7. #32
    Cyburbian ABS's avatar
    Apr 2004
    Brisbane, Australia
    I'm yet another person raised in the suburbs. My area in Brisbane, QLD, Australia was built around the 1970s. I do like the suburbs, but there are better ways of doing development. Especially now that infill development is being encouraged in Brisbane I hope the zoning codes and NIMBY don't destroy it.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
    May 2003
    Northwestern Ohio

    Bedroom Suburbia

    This Bear lived in a couple of different suburbia-type neighborhoods.....

    MacKondin Heights This incorporated in the city of Toledo area was just west of the 1950's shopping center, Westgate Village. All of the houses were ranch homes, usually brick, built by the same couple of developers. When we moved in (Bear at age six or seven) Central Avenue was just a 2-lane road. Now that same Central Avenue is five-lanes at this point.....and goes to even more lanes when you drive another five (5) miles west and get to the "real sprawl".

    Otterpop called it a "Beaver Cleaver type of existence". That would describe the suburbia of my early youth.

    Shoreland This incorporated in the city of Toledo area (adjacent to a very small unincorporated township) is in north Toledo, on the opposite side of the Ottawa River from Point Place (another T-town neighborhood). Everything we did involved the river and girls. 'Nuff said.

    Just before graduating from high school my family moved to a Toledo neighborhood called Lincolnshire. More ranch houses. Adjacent-to the suburb of Ottawa Hills......2nd-highest income folks in Ohio.

    The last twenty (20) or so years have seen this Bear in bedroom suburbs (Swanton) or in very-rural areas (Henry County), just west of BFE.

    I have nothing against suburbs.

    Occupy Cyburbia!

  9. #34

    May 1997
    Williston, VT
    I never lived in the 'burbs until now. Having the 'burbs overlaid over a former small village makes some difference, as does the fact that the whole urban area is quite small, but having ridden our bikes on the town trail to see the fireworks last night, following a neighborhood picnic, following the community 4th of July parade, I have to say it can be pleasant. There are drawbacks: over-protective parents and spoiled kids, NIMBY-ism (it hasn't reared its ugly head in the time I've been here, but it is lurking out there), homegeneity, and the need to drive for most (we can walk to the library and one nice place to have breakfast or lunch) basic needs through what can, at times, be aggravating congestion. I know that our little 'burb is not at all like the vast tracts that surround larger cities, but the reasons people live here are essentially the same. What it suggests to me is that the critique of suburbia is in large part a critique of capitalism, of mass production and the way it transforms landscapes.

    I can't evaluate the trade-offs with true city living, which I have never done. But this is similar to many small towns in character, just without the ability to walk (if you live in the "old" part of town) to basic services. It is not much different from living in a city of 50,000, depending on where you live in that city. My conclusion is that unless you live in the heart of a big city, a truly urban/urbane lifestyle, or in some of the most wealthy enclaves, the basics of life in America have become pretty much the same everywhere. So have the planning problems.

    The 'burbs - including this one - could be a lot better. And history shows that we have always known how to make them so. Why didn't we? Because the nature of our economic system is to divide the individual and community interests and pit them against each other.

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