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An Atlas of Suburbanisms

Not every suburb is completely suburban, nor is every city completely urban, as a resource-rich new website helps show.
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Suburbia is a place you probably associate with certain images: Lawns, bike-riding kids, big houses, two-car garages. The city, similarly, is a place we can easily visualize: dense, busy, and full of a wide variety of people. It's easy to think of cities and suburbs as distinct places with distinct lifestyles. But when elements of those places and lifestyles cross the borderline between city and suburb, these comfortable ideas about what's what begin to erode.

It's becoming increasingly true that the dense and walkable urban form of central cities can be found in suburbs and exurbs just as much as a car-oriented life can be reality in the city. It's an idea explored recently by Emily Badger in her article on the very non-suburban elements of her supposedly suburban home of Alexandria, Virginia. Not every suburb is completely suburban in lifestyle and physical form, nor is every city completely urban. Many, if not most are a blend of qualities and characteristics that challenge the way we think about the spectrum of urbanity.