Suburbanization --Suburbanization --
AP HumanAP Human
Patricia GoberPatricia Gober
Department of GeographyDepartment of Geography
Arizona State UniversityArizona State University
Greg SherwinGreg Sherwin
AP Human Geography TeacherAP Human Geography Teacher
Adlai E. Stevenson High SchoolAdlai E. Stevenson High School
Definition of SuburbanizationDefinition of Suburbanization
Movement of upper and middle-classMovement of upper and middle-class
people from core areas to surroundingpeople from core areas to surrounding
outskirts. The process began in theoutskirts. The process began in the
mid-nineteenth century but became amid-nineteenth century but became a
mass phenomenon in the late-twentiethmass phenomenon in the late-twentieth
The U. S. suburban population grew fromThe U. S. suburban population grew from
26.7% in 1950 to 49.8% in 2000.26.7% in 1950 to 49.8% in 2000.
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
Pop. in Cities, Suburbs, and Nonmetro Areas
1950 to 2000
ClevelandCleveland’s changing density’s changing density
Post-War suburbanization represents aPost-War suburbanization represents a
huge change in the distribution of thehuge change in the distribution of the
nationnation’s population.’s population.
It has important consequences for howIt has important consequences for how
society uses its land resource.society uses its land resource.
Surburbanization is a land-Surburbanization is a land-
hungry process (sprawl).hungry process (sprawl).
Suburbanization as a massSuburbanization as a mass
phenomenon after 1950.phenomenon after 1950.
Phoenix grew by 1 millionPhoenix grew by 1 million
between 1990 and 2000.between 1990 and 2000.
Changes in ChicagolandChanges in Chicagoland
Population of Chicago peaks in 1950 at 3.7Population of Chicago peaks in 1950 at 3.7
1970: 48% of population lives in city; 60% of1970: 48% of population lives in city; 60% of
all available jobsall available jobs
1990: 38% of pop and 37% of jobs1990: 38% of pop and 37% of jobs
Chicago left with economics, social andChicago left with economics, social and
political problemspolitical problems
Suburban service businesses have problemsSuburban service businesses have problems
Families of influence and affluence moved
further and further away from city centers,
leaving lower-income populations behind.
Without a healthy property tax base, city
schools become underfunded. This pattern
follows racial as well as economic lines.
-Erik Howenstein, Northeastern
ChicagoChicago’s problems’s problems
Results in cities:
Those left in city can’t afford suburbs or
Why suburbs?Why suburbs?
Housing productionHousing production
Landscape preferenceLandscape preference
Social and demographic trendsSocial and demographic trends
Freeways and transport corridors increasedFreeways and transport corridors increased
accessibility of the suburbs.accessibility of the suburbs.
Federal Highway Act of 1956: one of the mostFederal Highway Act of 1956: one of the most
important government action in the 20thimportant government action in the 20th
32 billion and 40,000 miles across USA32 billion and 40,000 miles across USA
““The amount of concrete poured to form theseThe amount of concrete poured to form these
roadways would build six sidewalks to the moon”roadways would build six sidewalks to the moon”
IKE…but what was the original intent?IKE…but what was the original intent?
4 stages of urban4 stages of urban
transportation developmenttransportation development
•Freeways opened up large areas ofFreeways opened up large areas of
cheap land for development of low-costcheap land for development of low-cost
housing by developershousing by developers
Transportation againTransportation again
• Cars became more affordable, greaterCars became more affordable, greater
availability/access…shift from war to peaceavailability/access…shift from war to peace
time productiontime production
• 58 million cars sold in the 50s58 million cars sold in the 50s
• -curb-side service-curb-side service
Mass production of housing-Mass production of housing-
housing supply issueshousing supply issues
Housing was produced by large developers on largeHousing was produced by large developers on large
tracts of cheap land. 70% of new homes weretracts of cheap land. 70% of new homes were
constructed by 10% of builders.constructed by 10% of builders.
Mass produced styles made housing cheaper andMass produced styles made housing cheaper and
more affordable. (Levittowns)more affordable. (Levittowns)
Post-war mortgage programs. FHA (1934) and GI BillPost-war mortgage programs. FHA (1934) and GI Bill
of Rights loans guaranteed creditors security on theirof Rights loans guaranteed creditors security on their
loans by reducing down payments and extendingloans by reducing down payments and extending
repayment period.repayment period.
Homeownership increased from 43.6% in 1940 toHomeownership increased from 43.6% in 1940 to
65.5% in 2000.65.5% in 2000.
Mass production of housingMass production of housing
The moving van became the symbol of AmericanThe moving van became the symbol of American
mobility in the 1950smobility in the 1950s
Affordability improved due to “methods”: prefab,
assembled on site, division of labor into crews that
cut labor costs, speed of production
Financing easier to obtain - quick system, plus
Loan programs that favored new construction not
Landscape preferencesLandscape preferences
An anti-big city feeling: escape the built environment
and its density, pollution, congestion: rural idyll is the
Desire for large home size - ranch style design as
indicative of expansionist mood
Desire for single family (nuclear)
Suburbs as seen in popular culture (e.g. images in
the media, “the American Way”)
So, suburbs are portrayed in the 1950s media as theSo, suburbs are portrayed in the 1950s media as the
ideal American lifestyle -- Leave it to Beaver andideal American lifestyle -- Leave it to Beaver and
Father Knows Best.Father Knows Best.
Leave it to Beaver (1957-Leave it to Beaver (1957-
The Cleavers lived in the generic suburb
Father Knows Best (1954-Father Knows Best (1954-
The Andersons lived in Springfield.
What are the residential preferencesWhat are the residential preferences
in todayin today’s TV shows? (Geographers’s TV shows? (Geographers
can predict the future)can predict the future)
2000 shows2000 shows
Friends – New York CityFriends – New York City
Will and Grace – New York CityWill and Grace – New York City
ER – ChicagoER – Chicago
Providence – ProvidenceProvidence – Providence
Ed, Gilmore Girls, Everwood – mythicalEd, Gilmore Girls, Everwood – mythical
small town idealsmall town ideal
TV shows todayTV shows today
Gossip Girl – N.Y. cityGossip Girl – N.Y. city
Two and a Half Men –Malibu (Sprawl)Two and a Half Men –Malibu (Sprawl)
Modern Family - SuburbsModern Family - Suburbs
Blue Bloods -CityBlue Bloods -City
Social and demographicSocial and demographic
High fertility of the baby boom era raised theHigh fertility of the baby boom era raised the
demand for housing.demand for housing.
Large families demanded large homes.Large families demanded large homes.
The nuclear family replaced the extendedThe nuclear family replaced the extended
family as the ideal.family as the ideal.
Prevailing model of male breadwinner andPrevailing model of male breadwinner and
women as homemakers. Suburban locationwomen as homemakers. Suburban location
gave them home, garden, and automobile –gave them home, garden, and automobile –
cult of domesticity.cult of domesticity.
Fertility peaks at 3.77 in 1957.Fertility peaks at 3.77 in 1957.
Between 1950 and 2000, the U.S.Between 1950 and 2000, the U.S.
became a suburban nation. 50% ofbecame a suburban nation. 50% of
population lives in suburbs.population lives in suburbs.
Growth of suburbs reveals societalGrowth of suburbs reveals societal
forces – transportation technology,forces – transportation technology,
residential preferences, housing policy,residential preferences, housing policy,
and demographic change.and demographic change.
Discussion QuestionsDiscussion Questions
What are the consequences of massWhat are the consequences of mass
suburbanization for N. American society?suburbanization for N. American society?
Plight of central citiesPlight of central cities
Urban sprawlUrban sprawl
Social fragmentationSocial fragmentation
Local, state, and national politicsLocal, state, and national politics
Will the trend toward suburbanizationWill the trend toward suburbanization
continue? Think about the forces thatcontinue? Think about the forces that
created mass suburbanization. Will theycreated mass suburbanization. Will they