The End of Suburbs was released released last summer (OK, I admit I'm a bit behind on my book reviews), but I was reminded of it today while running errands in my suburban town.
Instead, a growing number of Americans (the book is about the U.S.) are looking for shorter commutes, more lively neighborhoods and housing close to social and business opportunities.
In other words, people are increasingly looking to live in more urban environments.
This, according to the author, is even more true for millennials (folks born from 1980 to 2000).
The book covers a mix of social and demographic trends driving this shift and is very well written (the author is a Fortune editor). The book focuses on the rise of New Urbanism. Key quote:
Most New Urbanism developments have certain identifying characteristics: narrower or more "modest-sized" streets, an easily identified town center, a Main Street lined with buildings that mix commercial and residential spaces, and a mixture of housing types throughout the rest of the neighborhood - single-family detached houses attached town houses, and apartments - all commingled together.
The book does not suggest suburbs are going to disappear. Instead, it suggests we're going to see the urbanization of the suburbs.
Which brings me back to my suburban town of Lafayette, CA. Over the past decade it has become much more urbanized and the city master plan calls for even more urbanization.
Apartments and town houses are being added in the middle and at the edges of town. New commercial buildings have gone up, streets have re-designed to be more walkable and city has become known for it's many restaurants, specialty shops and high end grocery stores.
Although Lafayette will never be a truly urban place, it's a good example of new urbanism happening in the suburbs. It's also a living example of the trends described in the book.
The End of the Suburbs is an easy and fast read with lots of interesting and fun facts. For example, the origin of suburb is Cicero, who in the first century B.C. referred to the big estates outside Rome as suburbani.
I recommend it to anyone interested in economic geography, cities or general trends and shifts.