On the one hand, people move to exurbs because they want some order in their lives. They leave places with arduous commutes, backbreaking mortgages, broken families and stressed social structures and they head for towns with ample living space, intact families, child-friendly public culture and intensely enforced social equality. That's bourgeois.
Today I'm back reading the letters to the editor and there were 5 on this article. Here are some samples.
There is nothing utopian about the exurbs. They are without public space save the shopping mall parking lot, their people do not saunter, the landscape is uninspiring, neighborhoods are often gated, and there is no place to assemble for protest. The exurbs are isolated from diversity, removed from the conversations of the world community and free from the sight of poverty, homelessness and class division. -Michael Oman-Reagan, New York, NY
So Republicans won in part because they courted voters who preferred to move away from society's problems rather than face and fix them? -Jonathan Carey Astoria, Queens
The responses are more interesting than the article. Both letters could be dismissed immediately because I doubt either writer has been to an exburb to see for themselves. Our experience with native New Yorkers is they have no clue what living anywhere else is like. This is interesting because living in New York City is different than living anywhere else in this country.
But lets dig deeper. First my experience. I grew up in Clear Lake City, a suburb of Houston, TX. But it could be argued that it was an exburb because we lived there because my dad worked at NASA and while I was growing up, most residents worked in Clear Lake for the space industry. As Clear Lake grew into a suburb, ie more commuters moving in, more subdivisions were built. All of these master planned communities included parks and public space. The assumption that there are no public spaces is absurd. I won't touch the "protest" arguement.
The assumption of people moving away from the problems of society is a bit of a reach. My wife and I live in the Upper West Side, but we have no kids. When we lived in Dallas, we also live close into the city center. Both locations we loved. But, when we want to have a family we can't afford to stay in the Upper West Side. It is easy to accuse me of moving away from problems of society when we move back out to the suburbs or back to Texas when we have kids, but it is not true. We would love to stay here with a baby, but can't afford it. I see nothing wrong with moving to a location that will provide an easier life to my family.
Just because you live in the city doesn't mean you are not escaping from the ills of society. This is classic city snobbery. It is just as easy to ignore the homeless man as to never see the homeless man. Mixing with different people of different social and economic backgrounds is only a positive if it changes the way you act. As far as diversity of thought, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I live, has less diversity of thought than I have ever experienced anywhere I have lived. The exburbs are probably more educated than any other area and I'm sure have very intellectual conversations about world events. I know in Texas we have to put up with liberal rich Yankees telling us how to do things, so why wouldn't this be the case in other exburbs? New Yorkes love to think they know everything about how one should live, but they don't necessarily practice what they preach, nor do they have a clue about what they are talking about.