CityLab Daily: Welcome to the Radical Suburbs

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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

Amanda Kolson Hurley

More on CityLab

Montreal Motorists and Bicyclists at Odds Over a Car-Free Park

After a fatal crash involving a bicyclist, the city tried banning private cars in Mount Royal Park. But public opposition to the pilot program was fierce.

Taylor C. Noakes

How Families With Kids Drive Suburban Segregation

The old divide between family-friendly suburbs and childless city living is fading. The new divide is within the suburbs themselves.

Richard Florida

Bills in California and Washington Address Homeless College Students

More low-income students, some homeless, now enroll in college than middle-income ones. New legislation in California and Washington state aims to help them.

Hallie Golden

Can Paris’s Olympic Village Make for a Healthier Saint-Denis?

The project fits into the suburb’s plans for a more equitable future, but some are skeptical, as similar ambitions have not panned out at past games.

Feargus O’Sullivan

Climate Change Is Already Battering This West African City

Home to nearly 300,000 people, Saint-Louis, Senegal, is seeing houses destroyed, streets flooded, and crops killed by encroaching saltwater.

Peter Yeung

This Day in History

The view of the streets outside Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where people came in great numbers to pay respects to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968. (AP Photo)

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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