|[Late 19th c. ad for a St. Paul neighborhood, a "suburban location."]|
I'll be talking about the suburbs as both an idea and a lived reality. As an idea, the suburbs have a long history of being simply the opposite of "the city," a mirror that reflects our urban imaginary. The suburbs is the anti-city, which means that it's always a relative concept. What was "suburbia" a century ago is the city today. Fifty years ago, pretty much the same thing.
And today, Lake Elmo is kind of a "suburb", too, in that it's explicitly the "anti-Woodbury." (Even though Woodbury is the East Metro's definitive second-ring suburb.)
In reality, the suburbs are a problematic dream, isolating spaces that almost evacuate the public realm. The tantalizing promise of "the country and the city, combined" varies in practice. For some, it certainly works and you find plenty of happy people. For others, like a bad futon, you have the worst of both worlds.
Anyway, I'll be on stage at the Park Square Theater (note the venue change) to talk about suburbia in theory and practice. I promise to be nice, but not too nice.
|[Fighting affordable housing in the suburbs.]|
But that's starting to change as some suburbs get more diverse. And that's why I'll be excited to talk to two people from Hopkins, Dominique Pierre-Toussaint and Anne Buck, about how that historic suburban city is changing.
|[The redlining map on display at the History Center suburbia exhibit.]|
What: Presentations and chatting about the history of Twin Cities' suburbia
Where: Park Square Theater, downtown Saint Paul
When: Tuesday 2/9 at 6:30 pm
Who: You if you buy a ticket
Why: Because of the History Center's Suburbia exhibit
Bonus: Here's a short suburbia reading list:
- Bourgeois Utopias by Robert Fishman
- Bourgeois Nightmares by Robert Fogelson
- Architecture and Suburbia by John Archer
- Building Suburbia by Dolores Hayden
- American Metropolitics by Myron Orfield
... and then there's loads of cultural stuff too, like the Organization Man or the Feminine Mystique.
Best suburbia films? God there are so many. I'm partial to Welcome to the Dollhouse, Clerks, Rebel Without a Cause, or even Edward Scissorhands.
To have your mind blown, check out the "suburbia" section of the Prelinger Archive. One particular favorite is "The Wonders of Asbestos."
[The Quiet Revolution, c. 1956.]