The late 1940s witnessed the birth of modern suburbia, as economic prosperity & declining inequality combined with newly-generous lending policies allowing millions of Americans to own their own homes for the first time in their lives. American families in an ascendant middle class could now afford cars, which began to transform the residential & commercial landscape of the nation. So-called "white ethnic" immigrant groups experienced more acceptance & assimilation in the suburbs, but suburban developers & residents drew the line at selling homes to African-Americans, & blacks were usually left behind in economically declining inner cities. Many suburban areas of the 40s & 50s began with a tight-knit community spirit (sometimes ridiculed as oppressive & conformist by critics), but over the decades that followed, longer work hours & changing cultural attitudes made the suburbs less neighborly & more individualistic. This episode also examines the recent revival of urban living. It concludes by considering why Millennials now are often giving up on the suburban dream, and it speculates on whether the suburbs are destined to stagnate & decline in the future.
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