Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Role Reversal: The Role of Suburbia in the New Urban Vision

I find Spigel's description of the purpose of the suburbs - particularly considering the mention of Park Forest, Illinois - interesting in light of the transformation Park Forest and other Chicagoland suburbs are undergoing now.

I believe we've discussed the phenomenon of "reverse commuting" before in class, and this situation directly reflects that. In light of the desire of young professionals to live in the busier, perhaps more vibrant social atmosphere of the city, elected officials such as Richard Daley of Chicago have been trying to clean up their cities, to make them even more attractive. Cabrini Green, a rather famous section of the projects in Chicago, has long been sandwiched by the affluent neighborhoods of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park...and in the endless quest for more housing, young professionals have been creeping closer.

The solution, according to Daley, is to outsource the projects, send them out to the suburbs - like Park Forest. If this plan should succeed, what the suburbs were meant to be and what they have become will be at opposing poles.

What do we think about the changing roles of the suburbs in America? Is this a cycle - will the suburbs again become a place of escape - or will Americans tired of the urban life try to find another kind of place?

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