Borderland

Origins of the American Suburb, 1820-1939

John R. Stilgoe

View Inside Price: $37.00


July 25, 1990
367 pages, 7 x 10
198 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300048667
Paper

This fascinating “prehistory” of the American Suburb traces its evolution from the mid-1800’s to the onset of World War II. Using a rich array of contemporary written and pictorial sources, prize-winning historian John R. Stilgoe guides us through the early suburbs of Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and other cities, showing us not only how they looked but what life was like for the men and women who lived there. 
“In chronicling this great exodus and its impact—on culture, women architecture, and myriad other aspects of American society—Stilgoe displays with, scholarship, and insight, as well as delight in searching out meanings in his sources…The book itself is handsome and well illustrated, blessed with a lively text, saturated with evocative and vivid detail.”—David Slovic, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Stilgoe’s research is thorough, his approach original and engaging, and his book a delight to read, filled with illustrations—pictorial and verbal—that help illustrate the phenomenon more clearly and deeply.”—Merle Rubin, Christians Science Monitor
“A provocative look at American culture…Borderland makes serious social history accessible and engaging.”—Caryn James, New York Times
“Borderland offers a fresh perspective on the zone between rural space and urban residential rings, and it challenges our assumptions about what constitutes a good life.”—Kenneth Jackson, Progressive Architecture
John R. Stilgoe is the Robert & Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard University. He is also the author of Common Landscape of American, 1580 to 1845 and Metropolitan Corridor. Railroads and the American Scene.

"Wonderful sentences and nuggets of odd information."—Eric H. Monkkonen, Western Historical Quarterly

"A welcome addition to the growing body of scholarship dealing with what might loosely be called suburban development. It is a well-written and well-organized synthesis that is richly and pertinently illustrated. . . . An important and useful book. It nicely complements and extends the existing scholarship on North American suburbanization. . . . Provides academics with a solid base of material for courses dealing with suburbanization."—Michael J. Doucet, American Historical Review

"Stilgoe has assembled a fascinating array of documents from the early history of the American residential landscape."—Adam Bickford, American Journal of Sociology

"A unique exploration of the American suburb from the mid-1800s to 1939."—Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs Review

"His study . . . establishes a lineage that is at once impressive and enticing. . . . As an evocation of a broadly held American dream that deserves serious consideration, Borderland is . . . an impressive performance."—Neil Harris, The American Scholar

"A lively book beautifully produced and illustrated."—Richard Marius, Harvard Magazine

"The true heroes of Stilgoe’s story are not industrial workers but the ever energetic, ever mobile commuters of America."—Andrew Saint, Times Literary Supplement

"Stilgoe is breaking important new ground. . . . Borderland is as much about the shifting response of the intellectual classes to suburbia as it is about suburbia."—Christopher Cladwell, The American Spectator

"What’s most striking about Borderland is how representative these early suburban settlers are of today’s Americans."—Alex Raskin, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"By combining rural journals, local newspapers, diaries, real estate ads and period drawings, his pleasantly illustrated ramble fills in the historical backdrop of the post-WWII mass exodus from urban decay."—Publishers Weekly

"Borderland includes fascinating insights on such little-studied topics as the passion for planting, the American love for old houses and antique furniture, the do-it-yourself movement, and the origins of the come-outer (commuter) tradition. . . . Borderland offers a fresh perspective on the zone between rural space and urban residential rings, and it challenges our assumptions about what constitutes a good life."—Kenneth Jackson, Progressive Architecture

"In chronicling this great exodus and its impact — on culture, women, architecture and myriad other aspects of American society — Stilgoe displays wit, scholarship, and insight, as well as delight in searching out meanings in his sources. . . . The book itself is handsome and well-illustrated, blessed with a lively text, saturated with evocative and vivid detail."—David Slovic, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[An] intensely visual book. . . . Borderland does more than increase our understanding of the suburbs and the American Dream of a home of one’s own. It also frames the discussion of city life, itself an admirable task."—Bonnie Menes Kahn, San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

"[An] ambitious yet leisurely pursuit of the genealogy of the suburb. . . . Many amusingly obscure novels and earnest pamphlets provide a rich trove of source material embracing such unlikely fields of inquiry as the beginnings of the garden club and the rise of carpentry as a hobby."—Mark Muro, Boston Globe

"Less than an argument than an evocation, this beautifully designed and captioned volume of genteel scholarship addresses not present-day problems but the ’long-foreground.’"—Mark Muro, Boston Globe

"Borderland is a rich social document cast in gracious prose."—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review

"In his richly documented Borderland, John Stilgoe relies on such firsthand accounts—essays, illustrations and maps retrieved from dozens of 19th- century books, newspapers and magazines—as he traces the evolution of the borderland in fact and popular imagination. . . . A provocative look at American culture. . . . Borderland makes serious social history accessible and engaging."—Caryn James, New York Times

"Stilgoe’s research is thorough, his approach original and engaging, and his book a delight to read, filled with illustrations—pictorial and verbal—that help illustrate the phenomenon more clearly and deeply."—Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor

"Stilgoe combines the most specific sort of physical observation with tracings of the subtle and shifting meanings the landscape held for its residents and observers."—Phil Patton, Smithsonian

"Engaging and authoritative"—David Gates, Newsweek

"A thoroughly readable search into the past, that shows and tells us what these early suburbs were like, using written and pictorial sources, local newspapers, novels, diaries, and real estate advertisements. . . . It is great fun to look back at some of the features of early suburban life such as garde clubs and horticultural societies, the great planting craze, and the origin of antiquing."—Victorian Homes

"Original, provocative, important, this book not only breaks new ground but is also a very enjoyable read."—John Mack Faragher