Suburbanization - Cornell College

Report
Suburbanization
“WE SHALL SOLVE THE CITY
PROBLEM BY LEAVING THE CITY”
- HENRY FORD
Kirstin Wagner
May 6th, 2010
Independent Reading and Reporting
 “Large Builders, Federal Housing Programmes, and
Postwar Suburbanization”
 Presented, 1978, annual meeting of the American Political
Science Association
 Published, 1980, International Journal of Urban and
Regional Research
 Barry Checkoway, Professor of Urban and Regional
Planning, School of Social Work, University of Michigan
Literature on Postwar Suburbanization
 Shift in consumer preferences  suburbanization
 Judd and Swanstrom, pp. 134-146, “white flight”
 Consumers = primary actors in suburbanization
Checkoway
Large
Builders
Federal
government
programs
Stimulation
of suburban
growth
*Institutional actors*
Lack of residential alternatives  suburbanization becomes only logical
choice for consumers
Role of Large Builders
Year
New housing units
started
Percentage of houses
built by large builders
1959
1,554,000
64%
1949
1,466,000
24%
1938
406,000
5%
Use of mass production and prefabrication techniques  cheaper, more
efficient production  greater profits
Mass production requires large, inexpensive tracts of land  suburban
orientation
Original Model* vs. Checkoway’s Model
Postwar
housing
shortage
Growing slums
Racial/ethnic
tensions
Housing Acts
of 1949 and
1954
*Judd and Swanstrom predominantly follow this model: 134-139, and 163-172
Postwar
housing
shortage
Increase in size
and number of
large builders
Organization of
large builder
interests into
NAREB and
NAHB
Housing Acts
of 1949 and
1954
Role of Federal Government Programs
 Housing Acts of 1949 and 1954:
 Stated aims: urban renewal and public housing (J & S)
 Reality: stimulation of suburbanization
Continuous increase in FHA mortgage insurance
 Continuous decrease in public housing units authorization

 Relationship between builder interests and fed gov’t
Builder size  Revenues for fed gov’t
“Economic soundness” considerations by FHA
Take Home Lessons
 Suburbanization was caused not by shifting
consumer preferences, but rather by the actions of
large builders and the establishment of federal
government programs which acted as an economic
instrument to stimulate suburbanization.
 Suburbanization represented the only logical choice
for consumers wishing to escape crowded city
centers.
The End
THANKS FOR LISTENING

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