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By Philip Langdon

Mentioning interviews with builders, planners, and citizens, the coauthor of This outdated apartment explains the relationship among standard glossy suburban designs and the emotions of neighborhood pride, whereas mentioning the virtues of older designs.

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Extra resources for A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb

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Time outside of work Page 5 Even in 1953 a day at the office took a lot out of a person. But the commuters just off the 4:51 train from downtown Chicago to the new suburb of Park Forest still had plenty of time left in the day, and they spent much of it socializing with neighbors. became tantalizingly generous for many people in the 1950s. Predictions of a three-day workweek began to be heard. Such forecasts have since fallen into oblivion. Harvard University economist Juliet Schor reports that the average American works 163 hours more per year than his or her counterpart did in 1970.

Yet the highly touted new developmentsand many other new suburban projects built on leaner budgets with fewer luxuriesleft me with doubts. In almost every case, something important seemed to be missing. What was it? From each of these trips I returned home to a New Haven neighborhood that had been developed between 1905 and 1920. Invariably I felt happier in this old neighborhood, which I'd adopted as my own in 1983, than in the new places I visited. For a while I thought that it was mainly the artificial materials and perfunctory craftsmanship of the newly built houses that made the new places seem unsatisfying.

Block clubs, neighborhood associations, and similar organizations serve important purposes. Most of America's organizations, however, operate Page 20 with severe limitations. The most politically influential organizations work mainly at a regional, state, or national level, where they become caught up in pursuing generalized solutions to problems that have occurred in numerous places. In their search for broad themes and common solutions, they lose sight of the distinctiveness and nuances of local situations.

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