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An age of transformation

by shadmin last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:07 AM
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by shadmin last modified Jul 18, 2008

From The Economist Fifteen miles east of Philadelphia, Willingboro's Grand Marketplace is a chaotic place. Merchants hawk Christian T-shirts, Amish quilts, Chinese food, massages and Afrocentric literature. Salsa music blasts from a CD stall. Most of the shoppers are black; the shopkeepers are a variegated mix of blacks, Latinos, Asians, Arabs and whites, including Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in traditional garb. Welcome to bland, homogenous suburbia...




 

 

From The Economist

Fifteen miles east of Philadelphia, Willingboro's Grand Marketplace is a chaotic place. Merchants hawk Christian T-shirts, Amish quilts, Chinese food, massages and Afrocentric literature. Salsa music blasts from a CD stall. Most of the shoppers are black; the shopkeepers are a variegated mix of blacks, Latinos, Asians, Arabs and whites, including Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in traditional garb. Welcome to bland, homogenous suburbia.

In 1960 fewer Americans lived in suburbs than in central cities or the countryside. Ten years later the suburbs had overhauled both; by 2000 they contained more people than the cities and countryside put together. Despite more than a decade of urban boosterism, beginning with sitcoms like “Friends” and “Sex and the City” and continuing with expensive efforts to spruce up downtown districts, the drift to the cul-de-sacs continues. Between 1990 and 2006 the city of Chicago added 50,000 residents, reversing a long decline. Not bad—but in the same period the sprawling metropolis outside the city proper grew by well over a million.

As they swell, the suburbs are changing. Perhaps none ever quite resembled the colourless domestic enclaves popularised by 1970s television programmes such as “The Brady Bunch”; now, they look nothing at all like them. America's suburbs are ethnically and demographically mixed—sometimes more so than its cities. Many are less dormitories than economic powerhouses. Among the most changed is one of the most famous.

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