The American Streetcar Suburb

Event Poster

Through eight case studies, Conrad Kickert, assistant professor of urban design at the University of Cincinnati, and Robert Fishman, professor of architecture and urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan, illustrate a variety of American streetcar suburbs, constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century — considered by many the golden age of suburbia. This exhibition aims to link the suburban future to its past by presenting morphological research on the American streetcar suburb, a significant chapter in the history of suburban development.

A symbiosis between the rapidly expanding streetcar networks and new housing and commercial developments on the urban fringe enabled many Americans to pursue their dream of living in the countryside while maintaining proximity to the vitality and economy of central cities. The depicted streetcar suburbs are compared spatially by cartography that includes current building footprints, open spaces, and infrastructure. Three-dimensional sections illustrate the variety of building types that can be found in the various streetcar suburbs, as well as the careful balance of public and private open spaces that constitute the ideal of living in nature. The current physical reality is accompanied by a short history describing the conception and evolution of the case studies, complemented by historic and current photographic material.

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