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Between City and Country: Brookline, Massachusetts, and the Origins of Suburbia

Between City and Country: Brookline, Massachusetts, and the Origins of Suburbia

Current price: $32.95
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2018
University of Massachusetts Press
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Since 1945, American popular culture has portrayed suburbia as a place with a culture, politics, and economy distinct from cities, towns, and rural areas. In Between City and Country, Ronald Dale Karr examines the evolution of Brookline, Boston's most renowned nineteenth-century suburb, arguing that a distinctively suburban way of life appeared here long before World War II.

Already a fashionable retreat for wealthy Bostonians, Brookline began to suburbanize in the 1840s with the arrival of hundreds of commuter families—and significant numbers of Irish Catholic immigrants drawn by opportunities to work as laborers and servants. In Brookline the poor were segregated but not excluded altogether, as they would be from twentieth-century elite suburbs. A half century later, a distinct suburban way of life developed that combined rural activities with urban pastimes, and a political consensus emerged that sought efficient government and large expenditures on education and public works. Brookline had created the template for the concept of suburbia, not just in wealthy communities but in the less affluent communities of postwar America.

About the Author

Ronald Dale Karr is a retired reference librarian from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Praise for Between City and Country: Brookline, Massachusetts, and the Origins of Suburbia

"Karr has engagingly detailed the rich evolution of Brookline, and clearly woven together the many strands of its development, in a manner that significantly expands our knowledge not only of Brookline but of the history of suburban development in the United States."—John Archer, author of Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American Dream House, 1690–2000

"In this intensive study of one Massachusetts town (Brookline), Ronald D. Karr has produced a worthy addition to the literature of suburbia."—Historical Journal of Massachusetts

"[A] useful addition to suburban scholarship in the detailed tracing of both property development and the shifting population punctuated by informative individual stories of property owners and residents . . . Recommended."—CHOICE

"This is a very well-written and extensively researched biography of Brookline. Karr, who has been working on this study for forty years, effectively traces the emergence of each successive landscape/subdivision through maps and photographs to support and illustrate his argument."—Journal of American History

"Between City and Country is well grounded in the historiography of suburbanization . . . Anyone interested in urban or suburban development will find that Ronald Karr's Brookline history is perceptive in explicating the suburban ideal and the personal experience of suburban life."—The New England Quarterly