Shared August 9, 2019
So many suburbs have similar plans. Why?
Help us make more ambitious videos by joining the Vox Video Lab. It brings you closer to our work and gets you exclusive perks, like livestream Q&As with all the Vox creators, a badge that levels up over time, and video extras bringing you closer to our work! Learn more at http://bit.ly/video-lab
In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox’s Phil Edwards investigates the system behind the shape of the suburbs.
If you’ve visited a suburb, you’ve probably noticed a similar look: same curving streets; same cul de sacs. It’s not an accident. In fact, this appearance of the suburbs is part of the Federal Housing Administration’s plan.
In the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, was the financial engine behind most home development. To ensure their investments were safe ones, they strongly recommended that builders and developers comply with the ideals they set. Those regulations aligned closely with the values of the time, including segregation and a burgeoning car culture.
These rules encouraged suburbs with winding streets and cul de sacs — aesthetically pleasing designs that led to sprawl and made a car a necessity. Even though the enforcement mechanisms have changed over time, we still live in a culture shaped by the FHA’s ideal suburban design.
If you want to learn more, there are a couple of resources:
Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities by Michael Southworth and Eran Ben-Joseph
Eran Ben-Joseph spoke to me about his book, which provides a great overview of suburban planning. It also has more crucial detail about street widths, which influenced car culture.
FHA Underwriting Manual
If you’re curious to wade into some primary documents, this underwriting manual from 1938 is a good place to start.
Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.
Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE
Follow Vox on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
Or Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H
How Leonardo da Vinci made a "satellite" map in 1502
Why monks had that haircut
Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?
Why Americans suck at soccer (well, the men)
Why no aquarium has a great white shark
Why ships used this camouflage in World War I
How Amazon Delivers On One-Day Shipping
This jet fighter is a disaster, but Congress keeps buying it
Why cities are full of uncomfortable benches
The rise and fall of the American fallout shelter
The high cost of free parking
The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps.
Why Norway is full of Teslas
Why the Tour de France is so brutal
How highways wrecked American cities
Why knights fought snails in medieval art
Why Japan has so many vending machines
The big fight over Coexist
The surprising pattern behind color names around the world