Recommended reading

14 comments on Recommended reading
1 minute

I hate April Fools pranks. So you’ll have none of that here. Just good reading on a Saturday morning.

💻 Why do suburbs remain so compelling to so many people, rather than living in the city? Because of our national agrarian roots, says Pete Saunders. Read Residential Dissonance — Where Americans Want To Live, And What They Settle For

Pentax K1000
Canon PowerShot S95, 2012

💻 Over the last 20 years I’ve heard it more and more often: if we could only be more like [insert name of European country]. David Heinemeier Hansson is a Danish software developer who has lived both in Denmark and the US. He offers his perspective on why the US can never be like Denmark — and why we shouldn’t try, and why we must lean into being the best United States we can be. Read America is never “getting to Denmark”

📷 Johnny Martyr reflects on the news that Pentax will make film cameras again — and why resurrecting the venerable K1000 is a good idea. Read The Significance & Probability of a New Pentax K1000

📷 I will forever be charmed by instant photography. Polaroid’s newish I-Type films and cameras activate my GAS. Dmitri reviews the Polaroid Now, an I-Type camera that resembles the classic One Step. Read Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera Review

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14 responses to “Recommended reading”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Pete Saunders sounds like someone who was raised in the suburbs and longs for that reality. He miscalculates the idea that people somehow wanted to live in the high density row house reality of the east coast, when in actuality they were shoved into that world based on developers and speculators building the cheapest living situations to house the burgeoning immigrant population and cheap labor. Its not unusual to see old cities in the fly over, where people had a better chance to control their lives, having few or no row houses at all; just nicely spaced small houses in neighborhoods that were still walkable to a store or restaurant.

    The advance of suburban living is entirely based on the ability of people to control their commuting via the growth of automobiles, and the need to flee crime. Crime, and the inability of police to control crime, is the number one reason for the growth of the suburbs. Where I live now, it is well known which suburbs were “white fight” suburbs, developed mostly in the 60s and populated by middle class, working class people who wanted their kids in schools without crime, and who needed to make an investment in housing that wasn’t going to be wiped out by the approaching marginally educated criminal class. The idea that the population had some inbred wish for a farm society is daft. The generation of people that headed up white flight, is quickly passing away, or dead already (the parents of the baby boomers), but virtually all of them, on reflection, longed for their old city neighborhoods, and identified crime as the number one reason for moving.

    I’ve never lived in the suburbs, and hated the idea that you needed to get into a car to do anything. Interestingly enough, most of my pals still live in the city, or opted for small towns within thirty miles of cities, but none of them opted for the suburbs.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      By “crime” I assume you mean “Black people.”

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        I can’t speak for the people that left for the suburbs other than reading the stats, and the stats say “crime”, and the fear of losing the investment of their home, which happened to many people in the rapidly changing cities in the 60’s. I think you can assume that some people might say “black people”, but I don’t know of any white people moving out of rich neighborhoods because a black doctor moved in next to them.

        1. fotosharp3820ea7ebf Avatar

          “I don’t know of any white people moving out of rich neighborhoods because a black doctor moved in next to them.”

          That might not be the best example you could have used.

          1. Andy Umbo Avatar
            Andy Umbo

            Actually, that’s one of the best examples that you can use! Education and sociology are some of the areas that people judge whether or not they feel comfortable in a living situation. I lived for years in Washington D.C. (NOT the suburbs of D.C.) where a lot of the black population had been from families that had been going to college for decades, many pre WWII, especially schools like HBCU’s. I grew up in areas of the Midwest where the first generation of people that went to college were the baby-boom generation, in the 60’s and 70’s, and the working class were descendants of Germanic trade union autodidacts that worked in factories in the 30’s to 60’s that had their own symphony clubs, and literature societies. I’ve lived in cities recently I didn’t feel comfortable in, and moved out of, that had many white twenty-something’s that were the first people in their families to go to college, and still had a large group of white working class people totally out of the educational and cultural loop. Much segregation today is based on education and income.

      2. tbm3fan Avatar

        You are pretty much correct. The code words back then, as there are always code words for it even today, were crime and schools. Fairly obvious in the first suburb I lived in that I can actually remember which was outside Baltimore in 1963 when 10. Baltimore now black and the surrounding suburbs white.

  2. Andy Smart Avatar

    The Youtube channel ‘Not Just Bikes’ by a Canadian living in the Netherlands is always good for content around European and North American town planning and transport

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the tip!

  3. tbm3fan Avatar

    As to where I lived most of my life in the past was the suburbs depending on where my father chose to live. To satisfy my curiosity I did live in San Francisco from 1989-98 (age 36-46). I left because of crazy rising rents in the City but liked the ability to walk and bike. Very much missed a backyard to relax in and watch the birds though so had to go over to Golden Gate Park but with many other people. Today I am in a suburb where I have that backyard again. To sit and relax back there, by myself, and enjoy the sun is peaceful. I could walk to downtown Concord, or bike, if I wanted but drive everywhere else yet actually drive little. What I treasure in the suburbs is the quiet and ability to have some nature right with me.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      There’s always that concept of whatever constitutes a suburb. In places like Milwaukee and Chicago, the first and second rings (and even more) of suburbs, are virtually indistinguishable from the cities themselves; you wouldn’t be able to tell when you crossed over from one to the other in a car. In addition, there are many neighborhoods in each city with private homes, decently spaced, and backyards, in addition to access to parks. Milwaukee and Chicago have some of the largest park systems, in city, in the United States. I think what most people consider suburbs in this conversation, are the post WWII, real estate development projects with multi-acre lots and mandated 3000+ square foot homes, that are literally miles from the nearest gas station or big box shopping center. I find that aberrant but whatever floats your boat, a persons home is their castle. I live on the western edge of a city, that up until the late 60’s, was the 13th largest city in the United States. Three blocks east of me, I have a park with a playground, and a par three golf course, as well as a soccer field. Three blocks west of me I have a park with a younger kids style playground, a monitored wading pool, a few softball fields, and a little pavilion next to a pond with skating (and also a pop-up beer garden in the summer). Not all cities are devoid of nature, nor have they allowed big money developers to turn themselves into something out of Blade Runner! What you say you like about the suburbs, is exactly what I like about my city neighborhood!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I always had a yard when I lived in the city. But I’ve lived in smaller cities like South Bend and Terre Haute.

      When I lived in Indianapolis I lived in the “old suburbs,” which were outside the old city limits and only became part of the city when the city and county merged in 1970.

  4. J P Avatar

    I have been doing a little research into the Indianapolis neighborhood my children bought a house, and have gotten an education in what is a suburb.

    In the 1880s the northern suburbs started at 16th street. By 1900 the suburbs were north of Fall Creek. By 1915 or 1920 the suburbs were north of 38th. As the upper classes moved north those less well off bought the homes being vacated. My kids’ neighborhood south of Fall Creek was probably getting rough by the mid 50s and looked like inner city Detroit by the mid 1980s. 40 years later those homes are worth more than mine, and many of them are newly built.

    I think that if there is available frontier and no natural barriers, Americans’ default is to build.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Which I don’t get. There are so many wonderful and sturdy older homes.

      This vinyl village house I live in now moans and howls in a windstorm. You can feel it move. My last house, built 1969 and covered in brick, made no noise whatsoever.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen many parts of Chicago. I spent a lot of time driving around there in the late 80’s to early 90’s, (Logan Square, Palmer Square, and points west) and it was a complete puzzle as to why people vacated beautiful, brick pre WWI and between the wars housing, west and northwest of the city, to leave for the suburbs and live in junky 800 to 1200 square foot garbage built ranch homes from the 60’s. There were also parts where the people just decided not to move and start neighborhood associations and hold out. Now they have something…

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