What's the most authentic representation of the American experience? I never thought about what it truly meant to live an American life until I came across a passage in When America Became Suburban by Robert A. Beauregard:
In the decades after World War II, America's identity was radically altered. Spurred by the return of economic prosperity, the extension of the nation's global dominance, and the simultaneous decline of the industrial cities and the rise of the suburbs, Americans reimagined their country and what it meant to be an American.
The United States and the world had changed. In the process of disengaging from it's industrial past, manual work was becoming less valued. Office buildings displaced factories as the era's dominant urban image; consumption surpassed production. The industrial landscape receded from view as people abandoned the large, central cities and small towns for new bedroom communities, embraced more leisure-oriented lifestyles, and rearranged their daily existence around a conspicuous and status-conscious consumption. Living differently, Americans began to think differently of themselves.
For most of my life, this is all I've ever known. I never saw suburban life as a disconnect from our roots as a production centered society. I'm not sure if we're better off, but I am fascinated when I consider the shift that was made.
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