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What We’re Following
In the 1920s, each weekday morning before dawn, the residents of a New Jersey neighborhood would get out of bed and begin their long commute into the city. They climbed on a bus that took them a few miles to the nearest train station. Then they boarded the train to New York. Their clothes were scruffy, and they argued about politics in a mix of Yiddish and English. Other passengers shifted in their seats uncomfortably. They were anarchists—and suburbanites.
In my new book Radical Suburbs (released today by Belt Publishing), I write about this anarchist colony in Piscataway, New Jersey, and five other communities on the outskirts of American cities that flout our preconceptions of what suburbia looks like and who lives there. Such as: a religious commune that practiced small-scale socialism. A utopian town built under the New Deal to bring high-quality public housing to Americans. And a ’50s subdivision built by a civil-rights activist to promote racial integration.
Readers of CityLab know that the U.S. suburbs are bedeviled by many problems—high carbon emissions, faulty urban design, and spatial inequality among them. In Radical Suburbs, I propose that understanding lesser-known aspects of suburbia’s past can inspire creative ideas for shaping its future. Read an excerpt today on CityLab: The Secret History of the Suburbs
More on CityLab
This Day in History
Shortly after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, his funeral at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which took place 51 years ago today, brought people out on the streets to pay their respects. One of the attendees of that funeral was then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who turned the tragedy into action by bolstering an affordable housing plan in the wake of King’s death. On April 9, 1968, Rockefeller created New York’s Urban Development Corporation, building 33,000 housing units for 100,000 people over its seven-year existence. From the CityLab archives: Mark Byrnes reports on the legacy of the short-lived agency: Out of a National Tragedy, a Housing Solution
What We’re Reading
Cambridge, Massachusetts, votes to mandate that protected bike lanes be added when roads are reconstructed (Cambridge Day)
Trump says the U.S. is “full.” Much of the nation has the opposite problem (New York Times)
Why did so many Chicago bars disappear? (WBEZ)
Cars dominate cities today. Barcelona has set out to change that. (Vox)
Is Mexico City the PDA capital of the world? (Los Angeles Times)
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