The Atlantic: The Creation Myth of the Suburb Is Just a Myth

One columnist and housing analyst says the accepted creation myth of early homebuilding is “conveniently forgetful about what actually happened in the past.”

October 2, 2015

Many real estate opinion pieces and critics scrutinize today’s builders and developers as being “gaudy and wasteful, disruptive to existing communities, and motivated only by money.”

Daniel Hertz, a senior fellow at City Observatory, calls this thought the “immaculate conception theory of development—it holds that unlike the homes constructed today, older housing was built the right way: modestly and without an eye for profit.”

The biggest problem with this theory, he writes in The Atlantic, is that it is “conveniently forgetful about what actually happened in the past.” He argues that the type of home romanticized by this theory, the early 20th century bungalow, were actually believed to have “ruined” neighborhoods by the arbiters of taste of that era.

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