Planned Suburbs

Las Colinas, Texas

Las Colinas was formed to provide an affluent community to the large corporations and businesses in the Dallas metro area. It is the pinnacle of suburbia with its middle/upper class inhabitants, single family homes, retail centers and well groomed walking paths throughout the community. Las Colinas has a place for all types of inhabitants creating a bustling community. The one thing separating Las Colinas from the bourgeois definition of a suburb is inhabitants that are of extreme upper class as it is home to many Fortune 500 business people and continues to have competitive advantage over other Texan cities.

Levittown, NY

Levittown is the first modern American suburb, built in 1947 after the Levitt & Sons company purchased a 7-square-mile plot of land. Many couples viewed Levittown and other suburbs as a chance to start over after WWII, and had the opportunity to purchase houses because of the G.I. Bill. People left cities like NYC and the larger, denser parts of Long Island to move to Levittown, where homes were built every 16 minutes at its peak. Each house was exactly the same, and the population was similarly homogenous. The mortgages were cheaper in Levittown than they were in large cities, but there were specific rules that prohibited minorities from buying houses and moving in, creating the homogeneity. Regarding the people themselves, the men usually worked in the nearby cities, while women stayed at home taking care of the children, a trend that echoes Robert Fishman’s note of the Evangelical movement encouraging women to return to the home and revolve their entire lives excusively around their family.

Riverside, IL

Riverside, IL is a planned suburb west of Chicago designed in 1869 by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmsted. The new railroad that passed nearby going directly to Chicago sparked new access to transportation and commerce for the area, which brought significant housing and a construction boom. Olmsted aimed to create a scenic area available for all residents by designing curved streets and avoiding right angle intersections to create more public space. The suburb serves as a low density environment defined by the primacy of middle-class single family houses set in greenery. However, Riverside is known to be a white suburb as Caucasians make up around 95% of the population, which limits further cultural and racial diversity.

Pine Hills, Florida

Pine Hills is a planned suburb in Orlando, Florida.  Built in the 1950s to house defense industry employees, this suburb was constructed to the same cookie-cutter standards as its peers and promoted by local authorities as a vision of the modern American Dream – albeit a restrictive middle-class, white version.  Later issues outside of the design’s control, like its annexation into Orlando, lead to initial decline in the 1980s.  Hit with worsening crime, businesses fled and residents lacking access to proper capital have struggled to adjust a sprawling area designed for middle class class commuters to their community and employment needs.

Tapiola, Finland

Tapiola, established in 1951 and located west of Helsinki, is a planned suburb designed by a number of prominent Finnish architects including Alvar Aalto. Much like Howard, this group of architects believed there to be a functional limit to both the area and the population of the city, and so the suburb was planned to house 26 residents perf acre and no more than 15,000 in total. The suburb, planned to be self-contained, was also designed to accommodate a range of income levels, mixing various types of residential units and building densities. Today, Tapiola serves as a reminder that planned suburbs are not necessarily always monotonous, single-class entities. Instead, they can represent experimental ways of living — together and with nature.

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