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Disciplines

Social History | United States History

Abstract

Today, more than half of Americans live in suburbs. A far cry from the “crabgrass frontier” of modest bedroom communities built for urban strivers, today’s sprawling, self-contained suburbs define our cultural landscape.

This fascinating book chronicles—in word and images—the history, development, and character of suburban America with an illuminating account of one of its signature places: Westchester, New York.

Designed as a companion to a major exhibition at The Hudson River Museum, the book brings together original essays by leading historians and other experts, and a rich selection of photographs, paintings, maps, ephemera, and other images that track more than century of growth, development, and change.

The essays explore key themes that run through Westchester’s legacy: the new transportation grids that make all suburbs possible, the suburban house as a new focal point for family life, the creation of a new domesticity, consumerism and community, architecture and nature. Also covered is the representation of suburban life in film, literature, art, photography, and the media.

From Washington Irving’s Sunnyside home built in 1830 to the virtual New Rochelle home of The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Rob and Laura Petrie, Westchester has been the iconic American suburb—loved and hated, desired and abandoned. Like the exhibition whose name it shares, this book is not just a testimony to a time gone by—but a vivid and provocative encounter with the porches, patios, and parkways that define the American dream.

 
 

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