Robert E. Simon Jr., Founder of First U.S. Alternative Planned Town, Dies at 101

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September 22, 2015

Americans were fleeing crowded cities to suburbia in droves in the 1960s. New York real estate developer Robert E. Simon Jr. wanted to create something different from the cookie-cutter sprawl people were moving to.

In his obituary in The New York Times, editor Robert D McFadden shares a glimpse of his work in the 1960s:

“Heir to a fortune, he sold his interest in Carnegie Hall, and in 1961, assembled financing and bought some 7,000 acres of woods and fields in Fairfax County, 20 miles west of Washington. He laid out a town of open spaces, homes and apartments that would be affordable to almost anyone, racially integrated, economically self-sustaining, pollution-free and rich in cultural and educational opportunities.”

About the community Simon developed, architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable wrote: “The result unveiled today is one of the most striking communities in the country. High and low buildings, commercial and residential construction — all traditionally rigorously separated in suburban zoning — share the land.”

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