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Bourgeois Utopias


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Table of Contents

* Introduction * London: Birthplace of Suburbia * Building the Bourgeois Utopia * The Suburb and the Industrial City: Manchester * Urbanity versus Suburbanity: France and the United States * The Classic Suburb: The Railroad Suburbs of Philadelphia * Los Angeles: Suburban Metropolis * Beyond Suburbia: The Rise of the Technoburb

About the Author

Robert Fishman, associate professor of history at Rutgers, is the author of Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century (Basic Books, 1977).


Noted scholar of suburbia Fishman presents an overview of the history of the movement of the Anglo-American middle class to detached homes in natural settings on the fringes of cities. This move to the suburbs, beginning mainly in the 1800s, he feels took place first in England, then the United States. Among the causes for this great change were the growth of city ugliness and the working class due to industrialization and advances in transportation and communication. Covering some of the same ground as Kenneth Jackson's Crabgrass Frontier ( LJ 9/1/85) but reaching markedly different conclusions, Fishman's book belongs in academic and large public libraries. Pat Ensor, Indiana State Univ. Lib., Terre Haute

In Shakespeare's London, calling someone a ``suburbanite'' was a serious insult, implying one lived on the city's disreputable outskirts. By contrast, today's American suburbanites are typically privileged commuters who have fled the inner city for a backyard and domestic privacy. Unknown to the premodern city where workplaces and residences were integrated, suburbia, as this searching study notes, is a middle-class invention. Fishman, a Rutgers professor of history, makes us keenly aware that modern, class-segregated suburbs represent a total transformation of urban values. Separate chapters cover Philadelphia's late 19th century suburbs and Los Angeles, the apex of the trend toward suburbia. Fishman is disturbed by the new perimeter cities or ``technoburbs,'' where industrial parks, shopping malls and telecommunications have supplanted face-to-face contact. (October 14)

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