tv Twentieth Century Suburbs CSPAN January 28, 2017 8:00pm-9:06pm EST
conference was held here in washington dc, and monday night on the communicators, we speak with three attendees with issues on the internet. mark jamieson, key advisor on the -- and, u.s. efforts to counter online of radicalization. >> they do not like the fcc's ability to be the referee on the field and make sure networks are fair and open. >> i think there will be a vision that is focused, the structure needs to adapt. >> there are efforts of google and others to create counter messaging because the government is not in a position to be a counter measurer. >> watch the communicators monday night at 8:00 p.m.
eastern on c-span2. >> on lectures in history, james madison university professor evan friss teaches a class about the evolution of the suburbs from the early 1900s until the present. he talks about how changes to home loan policy come of houses, and the rise of automobiles helped great an alternative to urban living. his classes about an hour. today we are talking about the suburbs. how many of you grew up in the suburbs? almost all of you. what kind of adjectives would you use to describe the suburbs? >> proud. mr. friss: perhaps an unusual choice. >> like being from nowhere. good.iss:
other descriptions, characterizations? >> safe. >> a utopia. mr. friss: a utopia. >> family oriented. mr. friss: family oriented. nicolas, were you going to say something? drew? >> i love this. mr. friss: good. some people, utopia, maybe this is a different generation. i thought people were going to say lame and boring, which is why i picked this very lame typeface. i thought we would start with an image of contemporary suburbia. this is an engagement shoot. , take into thee suburban street for their
engagement. people getting gauged, they take engagement photos. this went around the internet for a while and lots of people, including myself, left it. what is so weird about that? why does this image -- what is the disconnect? >> you would think it should be a scenic place like the woods, not a neighborhood. mr. friss: someplace may be scenic or natural. >> usually has a romantic feel, not random cars everywhere. romantic. people might take them in nature or the city, places that seem exciting. young couples, we do not usually associate with suburbia. but, what we think about suburbia has changed over time.
today we will spend the class thinking about how the notion of a suburb, and it is a notion, what we think about suburbs have changed over time. it depends where we are talking about and who we are asking. we will think about suburbs as a historical construct and what they mean. somebody, maybe nicolas, said it is kind of nowhere. but by definition, it is relative. suburbs only exist, though word suburb is the need for the city. it is related to the city. it is seen as a nowhere land between the city and world. -- and rural. we think about culture as maybe being urban or rural. jazz music, hip-hop. those are historically very
orms of art. and maybe country music or folk americathink of rural as having a culture that is very obvious to us, when we would recognize. what is suburban music? suburban art? suburban culture? it can be hard to identify. people who are from the suburbs, maybe not those of us who think they are utopias or drew, who loved growing up there. but people are often embarrassed to be from the suburbs. i said this because at the beginning of the semester i often ask students where they are from. somebody will say baltimore. and i will say i know baltimore, what neighborhood? out they live in a
podunk town 25 miles outside of baltimore. there are 8 million people who live in new york city. probably 30 million or 40 million people who you ask and they will say they live in new york. no one wants to admit there from new jersey, i guess. [laughter] mr. friss: they do occupy this strange space. andill go back in time focus on the 20th century and the mid 20th century, in particular. will have a early prehistory to think about how suburbs came to be. although the word existed all the way back in the 14th century, the suburban ideal, the concept of suburbia, began in the 19th century. particularly in the second half of the 19th century. it has a lot to do with cities. we talked about in class how cities are growing, becoming more industrialized. over time, cities become
associated with chaos, disorder, poor health. as a consequence, people are seeking the calmness of nature as a prescription for better health. to escape theting city. one of the ways they're are able to do that before they go to the suburbs are with urban parks. here is an example from central park, construction begins a just before the civil war. the idea was, if you cannot live outside the city, at least you could get a taste of the country. so they may live in these its, but theyowded city, can have the benefit of fresh air, scenery, florida and fauna, most of which was imported. but nevertheless, seemed very natural. wealthy folk could enjoy the curved path that stood in stark contrast to the gridlike streets
of manhattan. continues19th century and cities become larger and more industrialized, the notion that cities were diseased, ridden,dden -- filth- perverted places to live, only grows. some doctors begin to coin medical conditions, one is new itis, that makes people morbid and disturbed by virtue of living in the crowded, cacophonyty, with the , the noise, and all the people. century,n the 19th there are a lot of remedies for this. fleeing the city, maybe farther than central park. other natural
landmarks. a lot of people are riding bicycles as a way to escape the city. and have some sense of nature outside. style take south after the -- takes off after the civil war. cottage-style house, having fresh air accessible, space, i yard, a garden. some of you mention this notion of suburbs being safe and family-oriented. that idea begins to take off in popularity, as well. clouds,d earlier in the heriet beecher stowe, sister becomes one of the ,eading proponents of suburbia in terms of thinking about these spaces as ideal for family to
and encourage domestic feminism. aesthetic is seen in a number of ways. we will see one example here from new york. this house was designed by -- one of the people that designed central park. this is a big house, 5000 square feet. eight bedrooms, only one bathroom. that epitomized here, and a lot of suburban architecture was to emphasize nature, and its relationship to nature. house for mr.s treasurer of a railroad company.
they built it purposely on the hudson river to take advantage of this beautiful view, the natural splendor. and, situated the house in such a way it was opening up to the riverview. the big parlor rooms inside the house were at the back of the house so they could see the water. there was a big, giant porch on x assumed ofre vau the residence it spend the summer enjoying the breeze and taking in the breathtaking views. you can see there is a garden, i yard, emphasizing the space that could be had in the suburbs. a much bigger house and people were living in in the city. one that was supposed to blend in with nature. vaux was concerned about the house not sticking out so much. you can see there are gables that make the house appear very tall.
but in the rear, the gables are not there. roof to there is a deemphasize the verticality. there is also a lot of ornamentation. the idea was that these houses could express the emotions of the owners. on theindow hoods first-floor windows, elaborate trim along the gables, as a way , as a way to have tose ornamental flourishes, be part of this suburban-style architecture. which was very much intended for wealthier folks who could escape the suburbs. whatis interesting to see the house looks like today. this was a couple years ago. nice-looking house. it was on the market for $285,000. pretty cheap. a kind of signal of this earlier, impressive era.
while some people like vaux where building these suburban-style cottage houses, some wanted to create the first suburban-planned community. park in newllyn jersey, that sat 12 miles outside new york city. the other, riverside in illinois, which was pretty close, about nine miles from chicago. the idea here was not to create these nice, cottage style homes with their own yard in guarding, but an entire community were similar folks could come and suburbanhese developments, these neighborhoods. these planned communities. of the plansn both here, there emphasizing nature, the roads are curved. they bring in lots of flora and fauna.
park, the lot sizes are quite large and they do not allow fences. the idea, there would be a shared, open space, where any individual owner could roam in this big, public nature grounds. they are kind of interesting examples for several reasons. one of which, in the llewellyn park there is a gatehouse, which they used as a way to promote of privacy, security, these fundamental features of suburban life that we think of today. also, they suggest as passivity. these were in fact, country homes for very wealthy city people. later in the 19th century we have the origins of streetcar suburbs that had houses that are often a little less elaborate,
but interesting, nonetheless. popularized inme the late 19th century because they become electrified and are able to travel faster. this is an image of pittsburgh. you can see all of the bridges between pittsburgh crossing the rivers around it. these bridges are not carrying automobiles, but rather, pedestrians, railroads, and primarily streetcars. pittsburgh, new, suburban streetcar suburbs are developing. also, squirrel hill, where managers and businessmen can live in these nice, more bucolic spaces, but still manage to get to the city that easily. primarily asuburbs a residential. but they are also industrial suburbs.
homestead, pennsylvania, about seven miles outside pittsburgh, is an example of one of these and arial suburbs, streetcar suburb that is connected to pittsburgh via this bridge that was erected in 1895. this is not a zoomed in look. striking aboutd this particular suburb? how does it may be look unusual? others, thee streets are very straight and there is no attempt to incorporate nature. mr. friss: there is a very linear street pattern. they often follow the railroad tracks or streetcar tracks, where development is following transportation. >> it looks like they are close to factories. mr. friss: good, there is a
great deal of industry here. this is the homestead steel works which are eventually purchased by andrew carnegie, which became infamous for a labor strike. this is the center of industry. more than half the people living here eventually worked for the steel company. we are not going to spend so much time thinking about these kinds of suburbs. but it is important to remember that manufacturing does often moved to the fringes of cities. and there are all kinds of different suburbs. i wanted to talk about some of the things that precipitate the modern suburban movement in the mid-1950's. some of that stems from the new deal policies we talked about earlier. in particular, the creation of ,he homeowners loan corporation
a new deal by product that was trying to help people afford homes. as we discussed a couple weeks back, the great depression produced tremendous homelessness, foreclosures, etc.. part of what the new deal wanted to do was create a boom in the andtruction industry provide homes for people who needed them. this holc was an effort to provide mortgages for people. in the 19th century, most buyers either built their house, or they paid cash for it. mortgages were just beginning to become a thing. they were often very short term. you would have to refinance. offered alc longer-term mortgage with a lower monthly payment. one of the interesting things they did notc,
want to give out loans that would not be paid back. so they had a very intricate process of assessing value.rhood they did not want to give loans to neighborhoods they thought would be in decline. so they created a very detailed system where individual assessors would go to a neighborhood, look at the kind of housing. old theld look at how housing was, if it was in good shape, to determine if it was a good neighborhood that would hold its value, or a neighborhood that was on decline. and they made these maps with colors and letters to denote a were the best neighborhoods, and b, c, and d. see from this map from richmond, virginia, the most
salient feature in the assessors reports had to do with race. in this case, white neighborhoods tended to be shaded in green or blue, which was the highest ratings. if a neighborhood was populated heavily by african-americans, it was almost always received a d, or red rating. that was certainly the case in this neighborhood we will look at and a minute. which today is randolph. it had an effect on neighboring neighborhoods. you can see just to the side of this neighborhood is a yellow grouping, that is currently bird park in richmond. the report for this neighborhood said it would have been higher, would have gotten a blue rating, a b rating, but was downgraded because it is next to an african-american neighborhood. and there is a park on this side of the neighborhood.
so, african-americans are walking through this neighborhood. thereby, supposedly, devaluing. when the assessors wrote reports like this, in other neighborhoods they included all sorts of detailed information. see, but undert inhabitants, it would often say salaried workers, managerial class, to define the kind of people that worked there, as a way to understand how much money they made, as a way to understand if this neighborhood would become prosperous or maintain itself. but a neighborhoods dominated by african-americans, the assessor neally just listed megro -- gro, and that was enough to designate a red designation. and then there was the term redlining, discriminating by withholding
government services, etc.. there is been some debate about how much of these ratings mattered in terms of lending practices. but there is no doubt there is certainly a sign of how new deal benefits were being meted out disproportionately. it is perhaps not also a surprise there is a correlation between these maps and poverty rates today. this is an overlay, a map of the original holc map from 1937. areas that she didn't read in redath it -- shaded underneath it show a poverty rate. was goodhe government at predicting the future and he's neighborhoods were really in decline. likely, the government
helped cement the fate of these neighborhoods. does it have to do with suburbanization? in notice the areas in red richmond are at the center, the core of the city. that was often the case. this is a map of chicago. another from cleveland. and finally, in oakland. 19 -- 1940, orom 1937. you notice the red is that the city center, the core of the city. the government started to promote by giving loans and incentivizing in other ways, development at the fringes of the city. expense ofned at the the city center. it also began the process of cities, citynner centers, as the neighborhoods of
decline. and a, that those neighborhoods of decline where the neighborhoods in which african-americans disproportionately lived. and these ideas would be linked in a way that was -- would be hard to untangle for a very long time. homeownersp on the --home owners' loan corporation, a bigger and more important new fha,association, the becomes a huge part of the post-war suburban boom that incentivizes suburban building by making home loans much more affordable. a goes even further than the ensuring private loans that will provide long-term loans, with very little down payments. often less than 10% was needed.
this similarly operated and a way that promoted discrimination. was more likely to ensure new housing development rather than reconstructing or rehabilitating old development, which meant new housing was likely to be built outside the cities. they were more likely to insure mortgages for single-family houses, the kino would be very popular in the suburbsl -- suburbs. appallingly, many that they subsidize, they promoted the idea of restricted covenant. an agreement that the suburbanites then moved into these neighborhoods would be held to, that made sure they would never sell their house to somebody that was not white. excluding very explicitly
african-americans. would eventually be ruled unconstitutional by the supreme court in 1948 in shelley versus kramer. but discrimination managed to continue in a variety of other ways. these programs are in place before the war. but once the war begins to die down, soldiers are returning home, the g.i. bill is enabling economic growth. post-war, suburban boom of that follows world war ii. war, towards the end in 1944, there were about 144,000 new houses built in a single year. by 1950, there would be roughly 2 million houses built in that exact year.
by 1950, the rate of suburban growth was more than 10 times that the rate of the city center. these new suburbs were often much less dense. the houses looked very similar, and so did the people. the most famous and largest example of the postwar suburbs was in levittown in long island, 25 miles east of new york city. and his twom levitt sons. 2000 acres a potato farm in 1946. and eventually build 70,000 houses. and do so in a way that is reminiscent of mass production. as you can see here. would goized workers from house to house and do the oftentimes times very
minute, over and over again. they really helped revolutionize the building process. as you can see from this aerial image, they had precut lumber that came from the levitt farms. they meet these concrete slabs and dump the material out and they would quickly build a house. build a house to at a rate exceeding 150 over. the result is that the houses were very affordable because they were built so quickly. forearliest model sold $7,900. it is hard to do economic comparisons to today. but it would probably be something like $85,000, $90,000 in today's money. it became very affordable for people in the middle class. people start moving in in 1947 to houses that look like this.
it is still standing, but the original cape cod style and floor plan. what do you make of this compared toouse, other suburban houses? what is interesting? good, it is one floor. it is very basic, it is simple, compact. these cape cod-style houses were only 750 square feet. they only had one bathroom, they were two bedrooms. these seem pretty small to us and our suburbs today. but at the time, it seemed pretty spacious. and roomy. and had a lot of exciting features for people. notably, it was your own
house. it was detached, it was separate, you had a yard. the house conveyed a sense of family. there were very few private spaces. rooms, of formal dining there was a public, much more open kitchen, that was designed so mothers working in the kitchen could look out the front window and watch their children playing in the front lawn. there is no porch, which is often seen as the connection to link between the public street and the private house. people hanging out on their porch, a sense of community, things suburbs would be ridiculed as lacking later on. there were no stereotypically male spaces.
there are no dance, libraries, billiard rooms. in fact, these suburban houses domesticityw male were men were expected to spend time with their family instead of just hanging out with other male friends. speaking of the community, there are of course, no bars or s.lutions, -- saloon at first there were no swimming pools, parks, or playgrounds. eventually those things are built, but it comes much later. is only one of the house types. eventually they develop a ranch style. but there are only two coup kind of houses that look similar. createople would say it select of diversity in terms of the architecture.
suburban architecture tends to look similar, whether it is in long island or somewhere else. perhaps the more important critique is that the people living in levittown all looked fairly similar, as well. in terms of them all being white. by 1960, when 82,000 people are living in this very popular suburban community of levittown there is not one african-american included, and they are purposely and explicitly excluded. so, this issue of diversity is one of the critiques of suburbia. but there were many others, even 1940's.ime back in the and the 1950's and 1960's as they are exploding in popularity. actually?
>> you said something about red linings and restrictive covenants. when was blockbusting introduced? i know a lot of white families were selling their homes. good.iss: although restrictive covenants are ruled unconstitutional in 1948, they put a waiting period on it so new communities could create them and they do not negate existing ones. then what happens after those are put in place, there are a variety of ways, mostly real working to make sure african-americans do not purchase any particular neighborhood. was that property values would go down. this,are ways of doing not just real estate agents fearing people in a particular how you present the community. think about here in virginia.
some of you may see suburbs, jonesorhoods called the plantation. what does that signal to a particular group? i do not know if any of you go pumpkin picking? anybody go pick pumpkins? if you go in town there is a nice place to pick pumpkins that i take my family to every year. but you have to drive through this little suburban development called battlefield state. you drive on confederacy lane. names that signal something to certain people. but what eventually happens, which we are not going to talk the city much today, populations decline, and a great impetus for people to move to the suburbs. so-called white flight
were neighborhoods are going from white to black. people are trying to defend their neighborhood to make sure they stay white, and do so through all sorts of ways. that is when we have blockbusting and neighborhoods rapidly changing. this is predominantly in the 1950's when you see that as happening much more so. good question. while people are boosting suburbia, real estate agents, developers, banks, mortgage insurers, construction companies, are boosting the notion of suburbia while popular television shows are romanticizing a kind of inaccessible suburban ideal. plenty of people are beginning to question whether or not these are actually utopias. and great places to live.
part of that critique is about sameness. mass culture that is developing where people are itlicating one another, and concerned the houses all look the same, the pieces all at the boring,d we will have a staid culture that is antithetical to what we want. especially in terms of culture. there are unique problems in terms of women, and the notion of a suburban housewife, and what that does in terms of isolation and female oppression. and women across the country, whether in cities, suburbs, or rural areas are facing challenges all their own. but to get to the idea of the housewife, the suburban housewife, i thought it would show a brief clip from a newsreel of the 1951 miss
america pageant. attention, what miss america is expected to do. [video clip] >> miss america have to cook as well as look. they show they know potatoes have to be peeled. the cooking contest ghosted mrs. -- miss new york city. the best by miss new york city. feels comfortable. is the body beautiful that is the criteria for the well-rounded miss america. the winner is missing new york city. yes, white can be beautiful.
[and video clip] mr. friss: those women are rated on how well they can peel potatoes, how well they make beds. the men to come in to test them, i do not know what they are testing for. they're testing the beds. they have to look good in a swimsuit, to boot, on top of it all. are facingburbia this prevailing image of what a suburban housewife should be and have to do. their lives are quite challenging. this is one example of a woman, marjorie, from the late 1940's that lives in a suburb 20 miles outside new york city. she is talking about how lifecult and how busy her is. she does not have a job in the typical sense of the word, but her schedule, she wakes up at
6:30 in the morning, she had three kids, a four-year-old, 2-year-old, and the baby. boys, makesthe two breakfast. her husband goes to work. she washes dishes, clean downstairs, kids are out playing. she bathes the baby, cleans up the stairs, nurses the baby. makes lunch for the kids. husband comes home. kids take a nap. she washes the dishes. wakes up the kids, gardens, men's clothes, fixes the clothing. dresses for dinner with her husband. as a cocktail with her husband, makes dinner, washes dishes, nurses baby. kids go to sleep, and at 11:00 she goes to bed. in the article she talks about how they wake up in the middle the night, too. it is a never ending cycle. it is a lot of work for someone
who was not working. surely, some of you grew up in households where one of your parents stayed home and you may have unappreciated how much they did. with our two home boys in her schedule looks something like this. but she does not dress up for dinner, i will have to say. [laughter] mr. friss: ask her about that. these people working really, really hard. you do not think of them is working. but they have tremendous economic value. of they were working outside the home, somebody would have to be doing these tasks. of course, daycare is more common, but there is real value here. this photograph is symbolizing worth of her work. she makes in a given week, 35 washes its 750 items of glass and china, washes fortitude pieces of silverware,
prepares 175 pounds of food, does 250 pieces of laundry in a given week. in the article a company the photograph she talks about her many roles. she is a driver, a seamstress, i made, a cook, a nurse, and her husband's glamour girl. and she has all of these modern appliances and people think by the time we get to the 1940's and 1950's and 1960's, but a washing machine and a dishwasher makes life easy. even by the mid-1960's, women are spending just as much time on housework as they were 50 years earlier. but for marjorie, part of the extra burden is that she is living in the suburbs. isolating. she has to drive her family around all over the place. cousins, they do not live with them.
her neighbors are more distant. she does not see people walking andnd out of the building, it can feel, and does feel for her, very isolating. that is another critique. yet another is the idea of consumption. the suburbia is driving american consumption to even greater levels. we have talked about it over and over again in this class, how areers of class and status not based on somebody's income, but rather based on what they buy, what they consume, what they wear, what they drive. nothing becomes more important then one's class home. terms of achieving the so-called american dream, by
being a property owner. that idea is portrayed in this magazine cover from the late 1950's in which a young couple is imagining their future, imagining a ranch home and all the stuff inside of it, all the appliances. by the 1950's, americans by something like three quarters of all the appliances in the entire world. one of the more lasting critiques of suburbanization is in terms of its affect on the environment. here thean irony people are moving to the suburbs to get close to nature. but in the process, they are helping to destroy it. what might have been more natural landscapes are being replaced withsoil houses and lawns. air pollution, gasoline
consumption, energy consumption, trash, all of these things are creating great waste. and is a suburban nature even nature? theou think back to levittown houses and many suburbs you grew up in, people have pieces of rectangular grass. what is up with that? they water it in the summer, they fertilize it with chemicals, they mow it all the time. what with the grass look like if it was just kept more natural? and the kinds of grass and growing are not even native to the area. so it is strange. and people are pruning their
trees and hedging their lawns to make these perfectly rectangular angles. campus iy way to walked by a house i never noticed before. it had a bush in the shape of a dog. a little dog. woof woof. [laughter] take ass: i was about to picture and included the people saw me standing in front of their house. i did not want to be creepy. [laughter] mr. friss: it is weird, everybody pruning their trees. this time of the year, everyone is raking their leaves and putting them in plastic bags and putting them on a truck. is that natural? or the guys outside our building with their machines blowing the leaves everywhere, it is kind of weird, if we think about it.
this natural element. and a lot of the environmental critiques have to do with automobiles. and one of the developments in terms of suburban architecture is in terms of the garage. you may have noticed the levittown buildings in the 1940's did not have garages. we talked about automobiles but theyn the class, are very rare until the 1920's. people are parking them may be in stables. by the 1930's and 1940's we have driveways. it is not until the 1950's and 1960's that garages become integrated into the house. you can see from this floor plan of a model of the house from 1963, the garage is in or miss. it takes up more than 25% of the entire square footage of the house.
it can fit two cars and a whole bunch of junk. this becomes a staple of suburban architecture, these dominant garages. you may notice the first image we showed in class, the most striking architectural feature of suburban houses were these protruding garages. they are called, pejoratively, snout houses. people were critical of them because they elevate the car. but they also distanced the house from the public. it is often hard to see the front door and the connection to the people. garages are weird. justare an entire house for your car. you can drive your car into your house. you do not have to feel the weather or see your neighbors, he just drive into your house, in this little house, just for the garage. these garages have become bigger and bigger, even as the cities
have. to ashley's question earlier about what is happening in the cities, a lot of people are becoming auto-centric and desire having a car, which propels them to move to the suburbs. some cities are trying to promote auto mobility within the city and create drop garages. this is a famous example of a residential skyscraper in 1964, called marina city. it is a little hard to tell, but at the bottom of this giant is this many-storied garage wherealeted people can park their cars. this was done to stem white get people to not move to the suburbs. you can have it here in the city, too.
they are all backed in by a valets, you cannot drive it your self. elevating the idea of the car. we already talked about in our last class, the highway act that creates all of these roads in the mid-1950's. but in terms of their affect on the urban and suburban landscape, we should not forget about that. just think about the size, the gravity, the effect of these highways to read this is from 10 -- i-10, the eye and 110 exchange. they were too funnel people out of cities, into the suburbs. still allowing them access. where these highways were built inside the city on the periphery
was determined by the political will of a certain community, how well-off and affluent at immunity was. and often times the racial makeup of highways, they cut through neighborhoods of people of color. that happens down the street even here in harrisonburg. this is a photograph of eastgate street in 1957. called newtownd town filled with many african-americans. begins toonburg, think about suburban i think the city, making it more car friendly. widening the roads, crating retail shopping centers. you can to the giant hole here is what used to be the neighborhood. if you want to know how beautiful it is today it is this
wonderful parking lot and shopping center that nobody goes to. kind of ugly. there are suburban is a elements that creep into the city. remnants are felt today every time the city considers some new project, people always go to city council to voice their concern about loss of parking. there is a great concern about how much parking there is. one of these things the highway isis enable sprawl, which unplanned, scattered bit of the city that is spread across. los angeles is the most famous example. you can see in the very distance is downtown l.a. housinghis low-density and commercial districts leading toward los angeles. in reality, l.a. is more dense than many other places, but you
still get the idea. perhaps a more striking example from nevada, a subdivision created in the middle of the desert. where do these people go grocery shopping? where do they work? where do they play? they have to drive everywhere. and it is completely separate. think about the environmental consequences of this is obvious. there were a number by the time we get to the 1960's, these critiques of suburbia have blossomed enough that a number of innovators were trying to do something different and created a series of new towns like irvine, california, and columbia in maryland. it was started by a guy named concernedwho was about sprawl between washington and baltimore. he treated the city of columbia in between these two cities.
he was afraid the current housing represented were people were living, they would eventually swallow columbia, but everything between baltimore and washington would be ugly, unplanned mess. he took this opportunity to buy 14,000 acres of land, which was from farmersural and a small tracks, milking cows and picnic lunches. he decided to section off this place to create a new kind of suburb. one that explicitly deals with the limitations and problems of existing in the suburbs. 50 secretly buys all this land creates this new city. a lot of people were happy to hear that because there were
rumors being spread that someone is buying up all the land to create a garbage dump for washington's of trash. people thought this was perhaps a better idea. his idea was to create a new city from scratch. and the symbol of this new city was this tree, the people tree. that he corny phrase wanted to create a garden to grow people. what are the ingredients of the soil? what do need to create the best kind of community to create the best kind of people? solution was to break down the city into smaller bits. you can see that on this plan here. the idea was to have a town center. some kind of downtown, but to have a series of nine villages that people felt more comfortable in small town america. the suburbs could be a hybrid of
small-town america with a villages and their own main street shopping center, but also have a bustling downtown with industry and commerce, an urban pulse. he is thinking about existing problems with suburbs, vegan communities were only people live. he wants to counter that with industry and commerce. he is thinking about suburbs that are all white, and goes to great lengths to create a much more diverse community. there are many examples we will see in a moment. in these villages, the blue dots represented the town center where the community could supposedly come together. this is a rendering of what it might look like, known as wilde lake.
you could see trademark elements. one, there was a lake. and the idea that the suburb would respect nature instead of run over it. it was also broken down into several smaller neighborhoods, each of which had its own elementary school. was thatstanding school was at the center of community and each of these neighborhoods would coalesce around particular school. this set of building says churches, but in reality they created interfaith centers where they forbade churches, synagogues, and mosques from being created, but instead had interfaith centers where muslims, andews, others would worship under the ame roof to hopefully promote
sense of community and understanding. along the same lines, there was a community pool. people were not allowed to have their own polls so they would be forced to go swim with other people. they could not have fences. nobody had their own mailbox, instead they were community mailboxes so you had to get out into the street and see your neighbors and think about this sense of community in a very real way. some interesting smaller details. they named the communities in the streets after american poets and writers as a way to instill and foster a sense of intellectualism. columbia was created in this time of cars, but there was also the hope it would not the as auto-centric. his plans are hard to see, but all of these shaded lines are
bike paths that link the schools to people and community to community that he imagined would foster another way of moving around this kind of new city. again, an antithesis to the existing suburbs. that all of this would combine with the kind of downtown center that would really provide the center of activity and culture. and the excitement. but instead of building a traditional downtown with a series of intersecting streets and publicants columbia, in downtown a new concept at the time, the downtown became a mall. built in 1971, the columbia mall
was only the 16th mall in the country. at thelled it a galleria time. it became emblematic of what new suburbs were going to look like, where commerce was going to be insulated in these kinds of strange structures. veryall, which is auto-centric. you can see them all surrounded by a moat of parking spaces. this makes it inaccessible for andle who do not have cars helps control the kind of people that shop there. malls are like suburbs themselves. there is supposed to be a mix of urban. you can see the space frame geometry on the roof of the mall signals this urban, geometric grid. that makebrick pavers it feel like an outdoor plaza. there are shadows coming in,
vendors, kiosks where people sell you monogrammed sweatshirts or cell phone plans. streetlights to make it look outside when you are inside. there are always birds in these places, i do not know if they put them there or they get in. it feels like outside. but it is not really a city. they imported ficus trees from florida. and of course, everything is controlled. there are these natural elements like the waterfall and trees, but everything is planned and controlled. there are no homeless people, no it is a, no bars, purified notion of what an urban space might be.
we will talk more about malls as the center of urban culture in the 1980's eventually. but the mall becomes the downtown of columbia, at the expense of everything else. what happens afterwards and that being mimicked in many other places. it remains much more racially inclusive than any other suburb. but many of its progressive movedts, it has gradually to be more suburban like. they are erecting fences. the bike path i showed you i was standing in the bike path to take a photograph of summary, but nobody came.
even if they live a half-mile from the shopping center, everyone has to drive. i asked my mom to stage the photograph. and she kindly did. some of the churches and communities moved to the center of the city. one of the largest is not the largest synagogue in town, decided it did not want to share space with other religions and build its own nice synagogue outside of town. cannibalizing the demand for these interfaith centers. and people are private. even my parents who live there who are very friendly, nice , their blinds are always drawn. even in the front of their house , they have drapes that are permanent. you cannot see out and people cannot see in. i talked to one neighbor
recently who live there for 30 years. she said she only knew the name of one person on the entire block. these did not pan out quite the way he had hoped. columbia has become more private and more corporatized and even has more sprawl. we do not have time to discuss the development in the past couple decades. the rise of mcmansions, the gating of private communities, and all this change that has been happening. we can turn back to our engagement photo at the cul-de-sac. i knew are -- do think we still decry suburbs as mediocre or blame or forwarding.
-- boring. in suburbs are changing. it calls, strip malls. a big box retailers. or maybe we will have self-driving cars. will places to study. so, adios. as you and your christ join us every saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. as we join classrooms will on topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. also available as podcasts.
c-span.org\history. or download them from itunes. the next, on american history tv, a history professor shows examples of hand talks about 19 century, early 20th century ku klux klan costumes. the author of ku klux klan the birth of the klan during reconstruction. elaborate dress and rituals used as tools of an timid asian end terrorism. historical society hosted this event. applause] >> hello. thank you all for coming out. surprisingly, i did not know when i started working on this 15 years ago that it would start to seem