p. 3: “Housing is an outward expression of the inner human nature; no society can befully understood apart from the residences of its members.”

p. 3: “This book is about American havens. It suggests that the space around us — the physical organization of neighborhoods, roads, yards, houses, and apartments — sets up living patterns that condition our behavior.”

p. 4: “In the United States, it is almost a truism to observe that the dominant residential pattern is suburban. The 1980 census revealed that more than 40 percent of the national population, or more than 100 million people, lived in the suburbs, a higher proportion than resided either in rural areas or in central cities.”

p. 6: The United States is unique in four ways: “affluent and middle-class Americans live in suburban areas that are far from their work places, in homes that they own, and in the center of yards that by urban standards elsewhere are enormous. This uniqueness thus involves population density, home-ownership, residential status, and journey-to-work.”

  1. “The first distinguishing element of metropolitan areas in this nation is their low residential density and the absence of sharp divisions between town and country.” (6)
  2. “The second distinguishing residential feature of American culture is a strong penchant for homeownership.” (7)
  3. “The third and most important distinguishing characteristic of our housing pattern is the socioeconomic distinction between the center and the periphery.” (8)
  4. “The fourth and final distinguishing characteristic of the United States residential experience is the length of the average journey-to-work, whether measured in miles or in minutes.” (10)

p. 10: “This book attempts to account for the divergence of the American experience from that of the rest of the world. How and why did Americans change their assumptions about the good life in the industrial and postindustrial age? Why did the metropolitan areas of the United States decentralize so quickly? What technological and ideological forces created the peculiar shape of the modern metropolis? Have the spatial patterns of American cities—with all they imply about aspirations and ideals—resulted from or caused a set of social values and political policies favoring suburbanization?”

p. 10: Seeking to build a synthesis of American suburbanization but makes no claim to comprehensiveness. Intends to cover important intellectual, architectural, urban, and transportational history with public policy analysis, and tries to place the American experience in an international context. Trying to sketch out “general patterns rather than a series of pedestrian facts about local peculiarities.” (11)

p. 11: The working definition of suburb in the book: “function (non-farm residential), class (middle and upper status), separation (a daily journey-to-work), and density (low relative to older sections).”

Chapter 8

p. 138: There were four approaches to the provisioning of schools, sewers, utilities, police, and fire: 1) cities could expand boundaries by annexing new sections into the municipal corporation; 2) new municipalities could be created in a suburban ring; 3) special taxing districts could provide for one or more of these functions; 4) county governments could expand their powers and become city-like.

p. 139: “The municipal area of the dozen largest American cities that experienced a net decline in permanent residents since 1950 and 1980 has increased by less than one percent since 1930.”

Territorial Growth in Square Miles of the Twelve Largest American Cities that Gained Population Between 1950 and 1980. Reproduced from p. 139.
City 1870 1890 1910 1930 1950 1970 1980
Los Angeles 29 29 85 440 451 455 465
Houston 25 9 16 72 160 453 556
Dallas NA 9 16 42 112 280 378
San Diego 74 74 74 94 99 307 323
San Antonio 36 36 36 36 70 183 267
Phoenix NA NA NA 10 17 247 325
Indianapolis 11 11 33 54 55 379 379
Memphis 4 4 19 46 104 217 290
San Jose NA NA NA 8 17 117 157
Columbus 12 14 23 39 39 114 184
Jacksonville 1 10 10 26 30 827 841
Seattle 11 13 56 69 71 92 92
Totals 203 209 368 936 2161 3671 4257

p. 140: The adjustment of boundaries are the dominant form of population growth in American cities.

p. 143: “Many of America’s great cities, such as Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, expanded their boundaries through a series of small additions rather than through the single massive change that characterized New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.” Uses the example of Detroit integrating outlying areas as they became settled, preventing the creation of independent communities.

p. 144: “The desire to annex was inspired not only by the booster spirit, but also by the business idea that a large organization was more efficient than a small one and that substantial economies would accrue from a consolidation of municipal governments.”

p. 146:

real-estate promoters purchased large tracts of rural land [over the last century] in the expectation that the advancing horsecards, steam railroads, and trolleys would make the area attractive to urban families. In the absence of decent sewerage, water, and educational systems, land speculators looked to annexation as a sort of guarantee to potential buyers that the suburb would eventually possess the comforts of the city. The desire to turn a fast buck was undoubtedly an important reason why nineteenth-century urban boundaries were usually set far in advance of actual settlement. In Memphis, in Baltimore, in Cleveland, in Chicago, and in other cities, the municipality sometimes included land that had not even been surveyed, let alone laid out into streets. The Philadelphia consolidation of 1854 brought into the city agricultural areas that remained working farmland for two generations.

p. 146: Although an argument could be made that a sense of community or mutality existed between the core and the periphery, more likely were the “mundane considerations” of sewers, schools, water, and police.

p. 146: Poor citizens had little choice but to incorporate. Rich suburbs could provide their own services.

p. 148: Beginning in the twentieth century, cities could no longer annex or consolidate in order to keep up with the overflow of population beyond city boundaries. This resulted in part from suburbs, who were not “rejecting growth and development, but were expressing a determination to control the physical and social environment in which they lived.” (149)

pp. 150–152: Jackson argues there are three reasons why older cities are ringed by suburbs: 1) shaper racial, ethinic, and class distinctions; 2) new laws that made incorporation easy and annexation difficult; 3) improved suburban services. Suburbs gained the ability to control external factors. Cities wanted to retain these citizens, especiall those in suburbs who tended to be wealthier and educated. And middle- and upper-income suburbs had the ability to retain their independence.

pp. 152:–153 County governments focused less on rural orientation and began offering municipal services. Special service districts also emerged as a method for creating independent suburbs—they could have their urban amenities without urban problems.

On California

pp. 265-266: Jackson uses Santa Clara County as an example of a “centerless city” — places that “never had a true urban focus” and “lacked a commutation focus” — and points to San Jose as the “nation’s largest suburb.” San Jose had fewer than 70,000 residents in 1940, but exploded to 636,000 by 1980 and surpassing San Francisco as the largest municipality.

p. 266: “Home builders, encouraged by a San Jose city government that annexed new territory at a rapid pace and borrowed heavily to build new utilities and schools on the fringes of town, moved farther and farther into the rural outskirts.”

p. 266: “As Santa Clara County became a national symbol of the excesses of uncontrolled growth, its residents began to fear that the high-technology superstars were generating jobs and taxes, but that the jobs attracted more people, and the taxes failed to cover the costs of new roads, schools, sewers, and expanded police and fire departments.”