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The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth

by

The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

andlt;Pandgt;Boston's metropolitan landscape has been two hundred years in the making. From its proto-suburban village centers of 1800 to its far-flung, automobile-centric exurbs of today, Boston has been a national pacesetter for suburbanization. In andlt;Iandgt; The Hub's Metropolisandlt;/Iandgt;, James O'Connell charts the evolution of Boston's suburban development. The city of Boston is compact and consolidated — famously, andquot;the Hub.andquot; Greater Boston, however, stretches over 1,736 square miles and ranks as the world's sixth largest metropolitan area. Boston suburbs began to develop after 1820, when wealthy city dwellers built country estates that were just a short carriage ride away from their homes in the city. Then, as transportation became more efficient and affordable, the map of the suburbs expanded. The Metropolitan Park Commission's park-and-parkway system, developed in the 1890s, created a template for suburbanization that represents the country's first example of regional planning. O'Connell identifies nine layers of Boston's suburban development, each of which has left its imprint on the landscape: traditional villages; country retreats; railroad suburbs; streetcar suburbs (the first electric streetcar boulevard, Beacon Street in Brookline, was designed by Frederic Law Olmsted); parkway suburbs, which emphasized public greenspace but also encouraged commuting by automobile; mill towns, with housing for workers; upscale and middle-class suburbs accessible by outer-belt highways like Route 128; exurban, McMansion-dotted sprawl; and smart growth. Still a pacesetter, Greater Boston has pioneered antisprawl initiatives that encourage compact, mixed-use development in existing neighborhoods near railroad and transit stations. O'Connell reminds us that these nine layers of suburban infrastructure are still woven into the fabric of the metropolis. Each chapter suggests sites to visit, from Waltham country estates to Cambridge triple-deckers.andlt;/Pandgt;

Review:

"In this examination of the evolution of America's oldest large city, Greater Boston's 200- year evolution is broken into nine stages. O'Connell, a National Park Service planner (Becoming Cape Cod), has a dual purpose: presenting a history of the area's planning and development, and suggesting points of interest to experience firsthand this development arc. From the 'Village Improvement Societies' of the early 20th century to post-1970s suburban 'planned communities', wealthier areas often aimed for a 'classic New England village center' aesthetic, which oddly combines a mishmash of styles from different eras, from Colonial Revival to Cape Cod. Taking a neutral view, O'Connell identifies the exclusionary verbiage and tactics that have long been the dark underbelly of urban planning, including zoning restrictions on two-family homes in tony suburbs of the 1920s to modern NIMBYism that blocks bike trails and windmills. The impact of both the automobile and public transit is evident here: the former for its role in post-WWII suburbanization and the latter for spurring growth outside Boston proper in the late 19th and early 20th as well as compact, modern development. O'Connell's combined history and sightseeing guide offers a distinctive, if dry, take on a multifaceted urban region. 60 b&w photos. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Boston's metropolitan landscape has been two hundred years in the making. From its proto-suburban village centers of 1800 to its far-flung, automobile-centric exurbs of today, Boston has been a national pacesetter for suburbanization. In The Hub's Metropolis, James O'Connell charts the evolution of Boston's suburban development. The city of Boston is compact and consolidated — famously, "the Hub." Greater Boston, however, stretches over 1,736 square miles and ranks as the world's sixth largest metropolitan area. Boston suburbs began to develop after 1820, when wealthy city dwellers built country estates that were just a short carriage ride away from their homes in the city. Then, as transportation became more efficient and affordable, the map of the suburbs expanded. The Metropolitan Park Commission's park-and-parkway system, developed in the 1890s, created a template for suburbanization that represents the country's first example of regional planning. O'Connell identifies nine layers of Boston's suburban development, each of which has left its imprint on the landscape: traditional villages; country retreats; railroad suburbs; streetcar suburbs (the first electric streetcar boulevard, Beacon Street in Brookline, was designed by Frederic Law Olmsted); parkway suburbs, which emphasized public greenspace but also encouraged commuting by automobile; mill towns, with housing for workers; upscale and middle-class suburbs accessible by outer-belt highways like Route 128; exurban, McMansion-dotted sprawl; and smart growth. Still a pacesetter, Greater Boston has pioneered antisprawl initiatives that encourage compact, mixed-use development in existing neighborhoods near railroad and transit stations. O'Connell reminds us that these nine layers of suburban infrastructure are still woven into the fabric of the metropolis. Each chapter suggests sites to visit, from Waltham country estates to Cambridge triple-deckers.

About the Author

James C. O'Connell is a Planner at the National Park Service, Northeast Region, in Boston. He is the author of Becoming Cape Cod: Creating a Seaside Resort.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780262018753
Subtitle:
Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth
Author:
O'connell, James C.
Author:
O'Connell, James C.
Publisher:
The MIT Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
Planning
Subject:
Economics - General
Subject:
Architecture-Urban Planning
Copyright:
Series:
The Hub's Metropolis
Publication Date:
20130322
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 17
Language:
English
Illustrations:
60 band#38;w photos
Pages:
344
Dimensions:
9 x 7 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Urban Planning
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth New Hardcover
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Product details 344 pages MIT Press (MA) - English 9780262018753 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this examination of the evolution of America's oldest large city, Greater Boston's 200- year evolution is broken into nine stages. O'Connell, a National Park Service planner (Becoming Cape Cod), has a dual purpose: presenting a history of the area's planning and development, and suggesting points of interest to experience firsthand this development arc. From the 'Village Improvement Societies' of the early 20th century to post-1970s suburban 'planned communities', wealthier areas often aimed for a 'classic New England village center' aesthetic, which oddly combines a mishmash of styles from different eras, from Colonial Revival to Cape Cod. Taking a neutral view, O'Connell identifies the exclusionary verbiage and tactics that have long been the dark underbelly of urban planning, including zoning restrictions on two-family homes in tony suburbs of the 1920s to modern NIMBYism that blocks bike trails and windmills. The impact of both the automobile and public transit is evident here: the former for its role in post-WWII suburbanization and the latter for spurring growth outside Boston proper in the late 19th and early 20th as well as compact, modern development. O'Connell's combined history and sightseeing guide offers a distinctive, if dry, take on a multifaceted urban region. 60 b&w photos. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Boston's metropolitan landscape has been two hundred years in the making. From its proto-suburban village centers of 1800 to its far-flung, automobile-centric exurbs of today, Boston has been a national pacesetter for suburbanization. In The Hub's Metropolis, James O'Connell charts the evolution of Boston's suburban development. The city of Boston is compact and consolidated — famously, "the Hub." Greater Boston, however, stretches over 1,736 square miles and ranks as the world's sixth largest metropolitan area. Boston suburbs began to develop after 1820, when wealthy city dwellers built country estates that were just a short carriage ride away from their homes in the city. Then, as transportation became more efficient and affordable, the map of the suburbs expanded. The Metropolitan Park Commission's park-and-parkway system, developed in the 1890s, created a template for suburbanization that represents the country's first example of regional planning. O'Connell identifies nine layers of Boston's suburban development, each of which has left its imprint on the landscape: traditional villages; country retreats; railroad suburbs; streetcar suburbs (the first electric streetcar boulevard, Beacon Street in Brookline, was designed by Frederic Law Olmsted); parkway suburbs, which emphasized public greenspace but also encouraged commuting by automobile; mill towns, with housing for workers; upscale and middle-class suburbs accessible by outer-belt highways like Route 128; exurban, McMansion-dotted sprawl; and smart growth. Still a pacesetter, Greater Boston has pioneered antisprawl initiatives that encourage compact, mixed-use development in existing neighborhoods near railroad and transit stations. O'Connell reminds us that these nine layers of suburban infrastructure are still woven into the fabric of the metropolis. Each chapter suggests sites to visit, from Waltham country estates to Cambridge triple-deckers.
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