betacity


what the boom yielded
July 19, 2010, 9:48 pm
Filed under: density, Suburbs

Here’s an interesting list of ex-urban consumables and the logic / illogic behind their creation.  The author doesn’t mention that it was all bought on credit and still — 60 years on — hasn’t been paid for.  Is a reverse action possible, one in which material is de-atomized, condensed, made less trashy and our habitats better?

The quotation:

The distinction between the booming economy and what the boom yielded can’t be stressed enough.  The great suburban build-out generated huge volumes of business.  The further apart things spread, the more cars were needed to link up the separate things, the more asphalt and cement were needed for roads, bridges, and parking lots, the more copper for electric cables, et cetera.  Each individual suburban house required its own washing machine, lawnmower, water meter, several television sets, telephones, air conditioners, swimming pools, you name it.  Certainly, many Americans became wealthy selling these things, while many more enjoyed good steady pay manufacturing them.  In a culture with no other values, this could easily be construed as a good thing.  Indeed, the relentless expansion of consumer goodies became increasingly identified with our national character as the American Way of Life.  Yet not everyone failed to notice that the end product of all this furious commerce-for-its-own-sake was a trashy and preposterous human habitat with no future.

— JH Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere, p. 107

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