From the 1963 Archive: The Problem with the Suburbs

Many families of the 1960s longed for a house in the suburbs. But an article in the Post observed that the crowding in subdivisions was creating homes little better than what families had left in the city.

Levittown, Pennsylvania, from the August 7, 1954, issue of the Post (Photo by Harry Saltzman, ©SEPS)

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From “The Suburbs Are a Mess” by Peter Blake, from the October 5, 1963, issue of The Saturday Evening Post

Thanks to the foolish idea that every family ought to have its own little house on its own little plot of land, the suburbs surrounding our major cities are in chaos.

They have lost the very qualities that people left the cities to find — privacy and open outdoor space. The most common residential unit in the suburbs is a single house set back 25 feet from the sidewalk on a 60-by-120-foot lot. The owner cultivates only his front yard. Because it is so public, however, the front yard is completely unsuitable for outdoor living.

The rear yard, on the other hand, is too small for growing children to play in, and frequently becomes nothing more than a place for hiding the garbage and hanging out the laundry. So the children play in the street, and the parents spend their time maintaining a front lawn they can’t use.


Read the entire article “The Suburbs are a Mess” from the October 5, 1963 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

This article is featured in the September/October 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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