Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A halt to suburban sprawl?
Minneapolis is one of four metropolitan areas where suburban home prices are falling faster than urban home prices. (The other three are Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco.) An article in today's newspaper focuses on how rising gas prices and energy prices are making some Americans reconsider those big homes in faraway suburbia.

Writes Peter S. Goodman in today's New York Times:
"But life on the edges of suburbia is beginning to feel untenable. Mr. Boyle and his wife must drive nearly an hour to their jobs in the high-tech corridor of southern Denver. With gasoline at more than $4 a gallon, Mr. Boyle recently paid $121 to fill his pickup truck with diesel fuel. In March, the last time he filled his propane tank to heat his spacious house, he paid $566, more than twice the price of 5 years ago."
Mr. Boyle isn't alone. In 2003, the average suburban American household (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) spent $1,422 on gasoline. In April, that number had jumped to $3,196. And back in April, gas sold for about $3.60 a gallon.

So, is the end of suburbia near?

In April, I moderated a panel discussion on that topic at the Walker Art Center. Called "Next Exit: The Shifting Landscape of Suburbia," a video of the discussion is available at the Walker Channel.

You might also want to read a piece (The Next Slum?) in The Atlantic Monthly by Christopher Leinberger. The article posits that there will be a shift back to cities. I remember liking Leinberger's Escape from New York reference, the apocalyptic city-is-hell film of the 1980s.

(Photo: Greg Stimac, Mowing the Lawn. The photo appears in the Walker Art Center's World's Away: New Suburban Landscape exhibit)

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