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

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  712 ratings  ·  118 reviews
A Fortune journalist examines why the suburbs are transforming and losing their appeal—and why that’s not a bad thing Over 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
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Sep 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio, non-fiction
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
Gerald Kinro
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
It seems like I’ve read a lot of these kinds of books, of the genre I will label “pop-urban planning”. Most all have taken a thesis and provided convincing arguments that their thesis is correct. This is of the kind, and takes the popular pro-urbanization tact. In this case, pro-urbanization is anti-suburb, at least in the title and most of the rhetoric. Yet the author also includes anecdotes that describe possible paths forward for those suburbs, including high-density faux urban centers. I’m s ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mike Horton
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Suburban sprawl has been researched and talked about for many years. What began as the answer to densely populated city life, has now become equally dense in major metropolitan areas like NY. Nassau County, where I grew up, is now incredibly populated and the traffic can be abominable at random times of the day or week. I don't think it is so much the design of suburbs that have created a breakdown in community spirit as so much that there are so many more people living here and we've learned to ...more
Jack Binzer
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this quick, brief, concise, and detailed outline of a major shift in the places that Americans choose to live. After reading this, all I could think to myself is, why would I want to live in the suburbs other than for the cheap housing available? Ugh, I especially gag at American suburbs when I compare them with European and Asian suburbs where it is quiet and more residential, yet dense and entailing of public transportation. When I think of "cities" and "metropolitan areas" and ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the book and agree with what's written, however, it's the stuff that wasn't written that earned it only 3 stars from me. Maybe because it's such a complex topic with many facets that the author didn't expand more on it for fear of the book expanding to an absurd page count, but the absence of speaking on the topic of gentrification really disappointed me and made her book sound like a free and breezy and a utopian feeling of cities reemergence rather than touching on how long-te ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so this book is a little old now, but I just came across it. Most of the other reviews are correct- this book is 20% academic literature and 80% tabloid material. The author conveyed an interesting story that still holds true in 2020. The American housing landscape is changing. Yes, some instances of causation were misrepresented by data correlations. Yes, the author has a clear bias toward urban development (even though she tries to caveat her persuasive opinions). However, I still really ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Meh... Nothing new here - lots of better books on the topic of cities. This is not a study but one person's opinions about other studies. I got the sense that the author asked a few people rather than truly doing some study.

And the writing is... dramatic. A paragraph may begin with "20 years ago" this happened and this is the result, only to finish with "things will never be the same" kind of commentary. Yep, things change - as proven by the previous sentences - but sometimes that change is sloo
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Reading this 2012 book from the perspective of 2017, parts of it are outdated predictions about the post-recession economy. However, other parts--like the gentrification and urbanization of suburban communities--are accurately foretold, and it's an interesting study in how the suburbs were shaped and how we cast visions for what they might become--for better or worse. It deserves an updating, but it's a good introduction to the economic and city-planning dynamics that shape suburban lives. ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though the book was written in 2013 and is a wee bit dated, the trends have continued. Traditional suburban communities aren't growing and being created at the race they were 20 years ago. Instead, we're seeing more choices to fit the lifestyles and choices of Americans in the inner ring burbs. More walking and biking friendly and potentially largely gentrified areas. It's a good short read. ...more
J. J.
Dec 31, 2019 added it
Fun, stimulating read as I reflect on these past three or four years living in the suburbs for the first time in my life. A good introduction to some of the more mainstream artifacts of New Urbanism as well.
Lucas Fernandez-Rocha
Interesting subject. I’m guessing this was an article she was planning on writing, but over researched and decided to make it a book. Probably should have kept it as an article, because half the book is anecdotal or filler cliches.
Steven Lee
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book Review: The End of the Suburbs by Leigh Gallagher

In The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving by Leigh Gallagher makes the argument that the suburban mode of development reached its peak in the 1990s and 2000s and we it has begun its decline as the monolithic form of the built environment. As Gallagher makes clear in her conclusion, the suburbs aren't really over. With millions of homes built in the suburban style and millions of Americans still enamoured with the vision o
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jul 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Brady Dale
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: glenn-has
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 explai
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Coming from a country where suburbia is mostly a lot of boring apartment buildings nestled on the side of highways leading to cities, I was always fascinated and curious about the American Suburbs, especially in the more subversive versions from Blue Velvet and The Truman Show. I became even more fascinated when I moved to the U.S., where to my surprise a big house in the suburbs and having to drive 15 minutes for a carton of milk was still not just something desirable, it was the very synonym o ...more
Brian Walsh
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
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
Sep 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
I agree with others who say that this book would be better suited as a long-form magazine piece. Obviously Gallagher has taken tremendous effort to research the subject, conduct interviews, and visit communities, but the whole thing was presented rather haphazardly. She went off track on New Urbanism, which while relevant, is hardly the only solution or a topic she should have spent 1/3 of the book breathlessly promoting. Criticism of New Urbanism (or any aspect of ending suburbia as it exists) ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nikki Boisture
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
A well-researched book chock full of industry interviews, including the types of people you wouldn't typically see have much of an opinion on urban planning - real-estate companies and home-builders, for one. The overall point of this book is that there is a major shift going on in real estate, and that shift is towards less auto-dependence. People want to live in cities, or in urban-suburbs where they can still walk to the park, the coffee shop, a restaurant and a few bars. Basically, if a prop ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Leigh Gallagher provides a broad discussion of the forces that led to the suburban growth in the USA, as well as the ongoing evolution of American society (alternative family structures, reduction in desire to own and drive cars, increasing desire to live in settings that are more urban).

One of the most useful discussions is in the Futures chapter where she discusses the private/public space aspects of urban vs. suburban life. One of the more profound changes in cities in my life is the push to
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
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
Amanda Linehan
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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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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47 likes · 12 comments
“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.” 2 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.” 1 likes
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