Interesting (perhaps overwrought?) article in The Atlantic on how foreclosure-ridden McMansion subdivisions are slowly turning into… well, not what they were intended to be.
Again, like so many on the subject of exurban vs. urban living, this article pretends that there is no middle ground between the lifestyles at all, and that old-growth suburbia does not exist – except in a sort of negative “white flight” way:
Many inner suburbs that are on the wrong side of town, and poorly served by public transport, are already suffering what looks like inexorable decline. Low-income people, displaced from gentrifying inner cities, have moved in, and longtime residents, seeking more space and nicer neighborhoods, have moved out. But much of the future decline is likely to occur on the fringes, in towns far away from the central city, not served by rail transit, and lacking any real core. In other words, some of the worst problems are likely to be seen in some of the country’s more recently developed areas—and not only those inhabited by subprime-mortgage borrowers. Many of these areas will become magnets for poverty, crime, and social dysfunction.
The only solution to this is that people are going to have to settle for less space – or to think about space in a different way. That can be tough. I personally don’t think I could hack high-density urban living (even as I’m sure there are many people who would really, really like it and just don’t know it yet). I need “my space.” I am simply not happy always being in someone else’s company, hearing their noise all around whenever and wherever — it isn’t a comfort to me 24 hours a day, no matter what urban planners insist is mankind’s natural state of grace (and if it was mankind’s natural state of grace, we wouldn’t have suburbs, or the desire for big estates when we get rich, or wars over territory).
However, it’s painfully clear that balance is required. There’s no reason why suburbia can’t be re-thought, and exurbia discouraged; I just am disappointed that old-fashioned suburbia is never seen as a stepping stone to new solutions. But architects and social planners seem very enamored of idealized Cities these days, and it’s hard to get them to examine suburbia as just another legitimate aspect of the overall beehive. It’s just all or nothing with a lot of these thinkers – the conversation is about little else. [ /grump]