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The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving
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The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  407 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A Fortune journalist examines why the suburbs are transforming and losing their appeal—and why that’s not a bad thingOver the past few years, the American suburbs have undergone a dramatic shift, with millions of once coveted homes now stamped with foreclosure signs and once-pristine neighborhoods plagued by crime and poverty. According to Leigh Gallagher, this phenomenon ...more
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published June 27th 2013 by Portfolio Hardcover
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Sherrie
I enjoyed reading this book, perhaps (probably?) because I agree with so many of its premises. I'd like to see sprawl come to an end in the way that the author describes. And yet....She skips lightly over a number of topics that impact people living in cities, the most important one to me being schools. Public education in almost every major city in the country is a mess, and the good and/or private schools either cost a lot or are bursting at the seams. I got the feeling Ms. Gallagher felt that ...more
Alvin
I'm sorry to give this book only two stars for fear that GoodReads won't recommend similar topics.

But although I like to read and listen to Leigh Gallagher (on NPR), I think this book is more suited to be an in-depth magazine feature article than a book.

I say that because the factual data on demographic and residential preference changes are presented well and she includes the public policy decisions that fostered suburban growth. She covers the mortgage interest tax deduction, single-use zoning
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Peter Mcloughlin
I grew up in the seventies and eighties and back then cities were not places for upwardly mobile people wanted to live. For most of the twentieth century the automobile and cheap gas spurred the growth of the suburbs and the flight of the well to do to new housing developments in the countryside. The suburbs by the 70s were the norm and ideal. Technically I grew up in a city but it was high density residential area not unlike an inner suburb (with single family houses) however it was a walkable ...more
Lyra
There are a number of interesting ideas, and the sections regarding the history of the suburbs and the "New Urbanist" movement seem to be solid, but this book is so problematic. The logical holes drain coherency from the overall argument.

It's hard to buy the author's assertion that the suburbs are coming to an end at face value. This is not to say the book has no value. It would be good for a group discussion to see how having a predetermined conclusion shapes evidence selection, data manipulat
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Gerald Kinro
Gallagher sees a trend, a reverse of what went on during the 1950s and 60s. During those years, fueled by ads, the media and mobility, Americans moved to suburbia to find their American dream. Now we find that many are weary of the commutes to work, play and all else. Many old-timers and those just starting out, are seeking relief and moving to more densely populated multiple family dwellings that are closer to work and play.

Gallagher has a crisp, tight writing style that is easy to follow and
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Desiree
I received this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

A good sociological study! The author covers how we live, touching a bit on ancient times and continuing on into possible future outcomes! This is not a book all about how and why we got to this point in our development, per se. It mostly covers the ramifications and current trends of how and where we live!

The fact that it is not laid out in a linear fashion makes it more readable and more accessible to the average reader. Than
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Mike Horton
Not the best book I have read on this subject, but definitely not the worst either. Gallagher seems to have trouble not being an investigative reporter when she's trying to present research on a very relevant topic. She hammers away with an exorbitant amount of examples when making a point, as if adding another, then another, example will further ground her argument. (Here's a hint: over-analysis destroys wholes, and too many examples dilutes and weakens a strong viewpoint.) The result of too ma ...more
Michael Lewyn
First of all, this book's title is misleading. It does not really suggest that the suburbs are "ending"- merely that cities are becoming a little more popular, and that many suburbs are becoming more walkable, so that (un Gallagher's words): "There will still be exurbs for people who like to live that way...But the changes afoot mean that there will be many more options."

Having said that, this book is one of those easy-to-read books that is useful for beginners. Gallagher explains how the suburb
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MDVinTO
Numerous arguments made by the author about why the suburbs is dying out, only one of which, I believe holds validity, the others are heavily skewed to the author’s opinion and I don’t like how she does not entertain the “other side” of the argument. Urbanism has many cons too. The only argument which I believe has validity is that suburban life forces extensive commuting - which costs time and money and is bad for the environment.

However, besides the saving of time, if one moves close to work
...more
Brian Walsh
An OK read for half the book and a joyful, unchecked one-sided march towards the demise of Suburbs for the rest.

The first few chapters of the book are decent, as Ms. Gallagher covers the domineering rise of the suburban house as a tangible slice of the American Dream. I had never before thought of all the joined forces (FHA loans, the automobile, street designs) that encourage the purchase of a house in the 'burbs without realizing the invisible costs that surface later (housing bubble, horrific
...more
Christina
Interesting book about how demographic changes (smaller families, fewer kids, aging population), the economy, and lifestyle choices are changing the face of the suburbs (more crime, more blight, empty homes esp. in places like Vegas) and driving interest in homes in cities and also to more walkable communities centered around mass transit (like Daybreak in SLC area).

Interesting to read about trends and to see how things like gas prices are having an effect. It used to be that people would live f
...more
Claudia Majetich
Excellent book by an Assistant Managing Editor of Forbes, as it summarizes many of the reasons that suburbs are bad for us, and what folks are looking for in future housing. Very well written. It made me realize why so many of the developers aching to build in cities don't realize all that is required for walkable cities, and instead think that all they need is to erect apartment buildings and everything else will follow. Short-sighted building efforts motivated by earning a good return on inves ...more
Simone

I liked this but I didn't love it. I thought most of the ground covered here was covered in Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design and I liked the style of "Happy City" more. Still this is a good introduction to why the suburbs (built in a time of rapid growth and cheap gas) are not sustainable in the long haul. This did provide some interesting suggestions for what might come next, and what we might do with all those dying suburbs.
P10pablo
End Of The Suburbs reads like a string of facts at the start. For anyone interested in the decline of Suburbia (let's face it, the decline of America) she presents the facts and they just kinda flow, one after another. The flowing fact voice almost gets to feel disjointed and then an amazing vibe comes to the writing. And it feels less like suburban decline trivia and begins to read like a book that breathlessly accounts for the how and the why of Americas decline. For anyone looking for light r ...more
Kcthinker
There are people who living as, "Real Life Urbanist," who are ignored by the big decision makers of the urban core planners.

Gallagher's term, "New Ubanist," was used as a marketing tool, throughout the.

Some real life ubranist would like to limit the community space to 2-5 miles to have all their lifestyle needs take care like, banking, gyms, coffee shop, jobs, church, movie theaters, etc....

A lot of these real life urbanist would move in downtown locations if the price was right.
No one explain
...more
Katy
The notion that less and less people are moving to the suburbs is nothing new to me. The why behind it was interesting to see talked about in detail and backed with research. I enjoyed reading about the history of the demographic shift to the suburbs- and how older burbs were constructed differently than post- war burbs for a variety of reasons. I was most fascinated by all the ideas for how we can reimagine the suburban housing stock that in the not too distant future will be underutilized.

I d
...more
Chris
Aug 04, 2014 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: City Planners, Real Estate Agents, Urban Planners
This book took me awhile to finish but I'm glad I did. I never knew what kind of spate was happening between city dwellers and suburbanites and I'm glad I now know the little feud that has been going on. I read this, not so much to take sides, but to learn how the new structures that city and suburbs are experiencing. I viewed everything through the lens of rural and urban development.

I wanted to understand why there was a shift happening between the two regions and what some of those causes wer
...more
Evan
I wanted to write a paper on this exact topic while I was in school but I didn't end up doing it because it was too broad and too new. I know many young adults who do not own cars and absolutely hate the suburbs. This is a new and major shift not seen since the mass production of the car itself. Mayors and city councillors across North America should seriously take note.

I'm glad such a book covering this emerging, often talked-about topic in planning now exists. However, as someone fairly famil
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Amanda Linehan
This book was excellent! I picked it up after my dad saw an excerpt in Fortune Magazine and told me it reminded him of us. The author is a Fortune editor, and she spent a couple years researching what started as a hunch: that coming generations are ditching the suburbs as a way of life, and that this holds serious implications for the way we plan for the future. What I liked about it is that it traced back through time how the suburbs evolved as a unique American phenomenon, and then outlined th ...more
Brady Dale
From my review on NextCity:

Fortune editor Leigh Gallagher’s new book, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, documents a shift in demand away from traditional suburban housing — big lots, car dependent, farther and farther from the city where most of the breadwinners in a given region work — and toward urban housing. Or at least something that looks a little more like it.

While giving room to those who are sticking to the suburbs, including newer suburbs that don’t look at al
...more
Nikki Boisture
I've read a fair amount of books on suburban sprawl,(many of them mentioned in this book) but this is the first that I've read since the housing market bust of'08. The news from the sprawl front is good. People are realizing they need to leave the exurbs and shorten their commutes and live in communities over housing developments.

This book made the problems of suburbia clear and concise - relying heavily on data over the emotional aspects of what makes suburban/exurban sprawl so awful. It's eas
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Susan
This book is an excellent overview of the forces that are compelling people to abandon the suburbs to live in the city. The author discusses the political, social and economic forces causing this shift through anecdote and discussion of academic studies. The book is written by a journalist which makes it more approachable than more academic or planner-centric books on the se topic. I would have liked more careful notes and a separate bibliography but on the whole it was an interesting read.
Jeremy
A great general introduction to New Urbanism, solid journalism on the housing market crash and its aftermath, and a well-informed (if sometimes painstakingly moderate) analysis of America's changing residential patterns. I wish Gallagher had turned on the caps lock at some point and proclaimed, in a burst of James Kunstler-ish raving, that some of these places just aren't worth saving, but maturity and facts are cool too. Solid first book--I'm interested to see what the author writes next.
Bruce
Past the histrionic title, this book looks at trends in Americans' living situations, and tries to explain them as well as suggest some ways these trends might play out in the future. Gallagher manages to be both the breezy magazine writer and a perceptive miner of data. Another point in her favor is she clearly is trying to describe what's going on rather than prescribe what should happen, supported by interviews with a wide variety of stakeholders.
Ed Kohler
Great breakdown of housing trends in this day and age

Does a nice job explaining how various styles of development came to be, and gets into whether current trends will hold up over time. Factors like rising gas prices and the trend back toward urban living may impact the fringes of metropolitan areas. it has a conversational tone. Very accessible to anyone interested in understanding residential housing developments a bit better.
Chris Ross
This is a pretty good book. It is well researched and well written. It is at time repetitive with the same facts or figures or information used two or three or more times in the book. I spend about a week per month in Seattle and Denver and have for the past two years and I agree that Millennials are not choosing to live in the suburbs and are choosing a walking and public transportation life style. I do agree that once this generation begins having children and their child wants a Barbie Jeep o ...more
Doug Haskin
An extremely interesting and well-written overview of the how our suburban sprawl came to be, why it flourished, the problems it has created, and why we need to move beyond this wasteful method of urban planning and living.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the issues of urban planning, transportation, our future uses of fossil and other energy forms, and the future of our cities and towns.

Andrew
The big bold title hides pretty standard fare, both in its writing and its conclusions. Yes, the suburbs are changing. Yes, the could be designed better and repurposed. No, they're not going to become post-urban wastelands.

I'm being a little unfair, because that isn't the argument of this book, which does focus on change in rather than decline of the suburbs. It's well put together and has a brisk narrative style. I just felt a little unsurprised because if you've followed the news for the past
...more
Alan Cunningham
This book was a bit too on the nose, but each chapter was written artfully, relating a personal tale of suburban life, civil engineering or family drama to current events. Some good facts and points in here, but I'm not sure that it makes an ironclad case. I would like more objective statistics, though I know the shifts described here are quite recent.
Brian
Sep 23, 2013 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I'm pretty sure I heard about this book from one of the various "New Urbanist" type blogs I read, so it's not surprise that I had probably encountered many of the vignettes and examples mentioned in the book. There is some hedging of the claim that the suburbs are ending, but overall, Gallagher makes a good case for the emergence of more urban suburbs and the renaissance of cities.

As a side note, it was slightly disappointing that she didn't mention Tysons Corner as an up and coming urban suburb
...more
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Leigh Gallagher is an assistant managing editor at Fortune and cochair of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe and public radio's Marketplace; appears frequently on CNN, CNBC, and other outlets; and speaks regularly on business and economic issues. The End of the Suburbs is her first book.

(Biographical blurb from the back of The End of the Suburbs.
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“Whether it’s because everything is so far apart or because it’s not possible for safety reasons or because it’s just not fun, suburban residents, relatively speaking, don’t really walk all that much. Studies using pedometers have found the average American takes a little over 5,100 steps a day, compared with 9,700 steps for Australians, 7,200 steps for the Japanese, and 9,650 for the Swiss.” 1 likes
“Contrary to what she expected, kids didn’t really run around outside and play in the subdivision. Instead, everything was coordinated by scheduled activity and playdate, so every day she would spend the hours from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. shuttling her children to and from all the places they needed to be: swimming, chess, ballet, Hebrew school, jazz, soccer, music lessons, and more—what Roseman describes as “all the ridiculous things you sign them up for because they can’t just go outside and do something with their friends for three hours.” 0 likes
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