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The Secret History of the Suburbs

We all know the stereotypes: Suburbia is dull, conformist, and about “keeping up with the Joneses.” But what about the suburbs of utopians and renegades?
relates to The Secret History of the Suburbs
Steve Bronstein/Getty

The following is an excerpt adapted from the new book Radical Suburbs (Belt Publishing, $16.95).


Back in the early 1960s, Malvina Reynolds wrote a song called “Little Boxes,” inspired by a drive past rows of lookalike pastel-hued houses in a new suburban housing tract in the Bay Area. (Her friend Pete Seeger had a hit with the song in 1963.) Reynolds saw the cookie-cutter houses as both symbols and shapers of the conformist mindset of the people who lived in them—doctors and lawyers who aspired to nothing more than playing golf and raising children who would one day inhabit “ticky-tacky” boxes of their own.