The history of the suburbs in America dates back to the post WW II era. Soldiers returned from war, married, and wanted to buy a home. What they didn’t want was a home in the inner city. In a time when people either lived in the city or town or on a farm, someone came up with a compromise.
Developers came up with the idea that if they could buy up enough relatively inexpensive farmland, outside of the city, they could construct homes, streets and small communities for all these newly weds. Close enough to the city to be convenient, and yet far enough out into the country to enable homeowners to have yards, driveways and elbow room, this seemed to be the perfect solution to everyone’s problems. It alleviated urban crowding and gave new families a fresh start.
Some of the earliest homes were nothing more than tract homes, built with very few differences, other than color or a slight variation in style. They were heaven, however, to those families who dreamed of home ownership, especially in areas where there was grass and trees and parks. These were middle class, working communities in the beginning.
Wherever there are people, homes and communities, however, businesses will follow. It didn’t take long for enterprising business owners to figure out that people living outside of the city needed many of the same things that urban dwellers do. They needed stores, restaurants, theaters, and other conveniences that they might not want to go all the way into the city to take advantage of. Many downtown store owners moved their businesses out of town and into the suburbs where there was more parking and presumably safer conditions.
Over the next few decades, the original suburbs, once surrounded by cornfields and farms have been virtually engulfed by the very rush of businesses, traffic and noise that they were trying to escape in the first place. Suburbs are no longer separate communities, but merely extensions of the outer bands of the city. Today, so many “big box” stores, restaurant chains, and other companies have moved to the outskirts, that many entire suburban colonies have been bought out and torn down.
The new suburban move has become more for the wealthy, as gated communities and large estates have begun to pop up outside of the city limits, taking over farmlands and encroaching on villages and towns. With so much development, and so many housing projects it is getting increasingly difficult to determine where the city ends, and neighboring towns begin. The new suburbs are somewhere in between.