Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

The End of the Suburbs

Where the American Dream is Moving

By Leigh Gallagher
13-minute read
The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving by Leigh Gallagher

The End of the Suburbs tells the story of how what used to be the textbook example of achieving the American Dream is in deep trouble today. The rising cost of living and an increase in poverty and crime have made suburbs less desirable places to live. The silver lining in the death of the suburb, however, can be found in the renaissance of once-neglected urban areas.

  • Anyone who grew up in a suburb
  • Anyone trying to figure out where to move next
  • Students of cultural and social history

Leigh Gallagher is an assistant managing editor at Fortune magazine and makes regular appearances in the news media where she comments on economic issues. In addition, she co-chairs Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

The End of the Suburbs

Where the American Dream is Moving

By Leigh Gallagher
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving by Leigh Gallagher
Synopsis

The End of the Suburbs tells the story of how what used to be the textbook example of achieving the American Dream is in deep trouble today. The rising cost of living and an increase in poverty and crime have made suburbs less desirable places to live. The silver lining in the death of the suburb, however, can be found in the renaissance of once-neglected urban areas.

Key idea 1 of 8

In post-war America, a cultural and financial obsession with homeownership drove the growth of suburbs.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine the American Dream? From the early 1930s onward, this dream often involved striving to own a car and – more importantly – a home in the suburbs: a serene, green place far beyond the hustle and bustle of the crowded city streets.

What was it that drove this near-universal dream? Actually, it was in large part the result of actions taken by banks and the US government.

The government actively encouraged homeownership as a way of representing wealth and prosperity and inspiring patriotism and “good citizenship.” In 1934, it created the Federal Housing Administration, which encouraged private lenders to provide mortgages to eager home buyers by insuring them if the loans went unpaid.

Banks, too, encouraged mortgage borrowing as a means to increase their own profits. One way of doing so was turning debt into bonds, which investors could then trade. In order to maximize this profit opportunity, they encouraged more and more people to buy their own homes by taking out mortgages.

These plans were an enormous success, leading to millions of new homeowners.

As demand continued to rise, builders and developers started building in more and more undeveloped areas. Because the value of housing climbs with the number of homeowners, builders would often build in areas further away from city centers to secure cheaper land and thus more homeowners.

Those desperate to own a home aren’t put off by the distances: their only concern was finding a house they could afford to buy, a phenomenon known as “drive till you qualify.”

As a result of all this outward development, 3 million Americans lived in the suburbs simply because of their families’ desire to have their own little piece of land by 2009.

Over the years, however, the desire to live the American Dream, or at least this version of it, has severely declined. In the following blinks, you’ll learn all about why.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.