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Rise of the Suburban Ghetto and Mounting Suburban Decay

But in my dreams we’re still screamin’ and runnin’ through the yard
And all of the walls that they built in the seventies finally fall
And all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall…
— From Arcade Fire and The Suburbs

A large alternative/independent newspaper in Sacramento has published a fascinating blog post about Sacramento’s developing suburban ghetto, What will happen to the neighborhoods the Baby Boomers leave behind? The article cites an important white paper recently released by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Here is an excerpt:

[Researchers] conclude that there will be an oversupply of homes offered for sale by aging baby boomers – many of which may not be of the housing type that young buyers want…Where decline once occurred as housing moved from the central city to the suburbs, it may now be reversed as the suburbs will see surpluses of large-lot single-family housing.

In May 2010, I blogged about Generation X’s disillusionment with suburban environments in a post titled, This authentic life: I dream of the city; my kids dream of the farm. There was also an interesting post published on Loan Safe in February 2010, The McMansion Ghetto.

During my college years (1985-90) I babysat for a lot of Baby Boomers who lived in the far northwest quadrant of Oklahoma City. The prevailing opinion at the time was that their homes were among the nicest in Oklahoma City. Many of my Gen X friends aspired to buy them and many did. But, by 2000, these neighborhood developments were starting to show a lot of wear and tear.

Abandoned Apartment Complexes Near Bethany, Oklahoma

Rise of the Suburban Ghetto

More than 20 years after their initial development, they still lacked trees and landscaping and the already-narrow streets were further diminished by the sheer volume of cars parked on the byways. I remember navigating through one such neighborhood on my way to a birthday party for one of Juliette’s friends. I was overwhelmed by the thought that I was witnessing the coming of Oklahoma City’s first suburban ghetto. I was certain that anybody with half an opportunity would find a way out of that neighborhood fast.

Today, that neighborhood looks even worse and it’s future dimmer than ever. Just like in Sacramento, some of the most highly-coveted suburban environments in Oklahoma City are falling victim to low home values and crime. Blight is the impending doom.

Abandoned Apartment Complexes in Suburbia

Abandoned Apartment Complexes in Suburbia

Abandoned Apartment Complexes in Suburbia

Abandoned Apartment Complexes in Suburban OKC

Abandoned 13

Abandoned Fenceline

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Barry Moses (Sulustu)

    I recently watched an interesting film about the automobile industry of the 1950s. Cities were designed after that time with the specific intention of creating great distances between homes and urban centers, thereby increasing the demand for private cars. Fifty years later we are reaping the results of social isolation and ruined landscapes. I appreciate your blogging on this issue. I have long believed that we need to stop expanding our cities into our natural and wilderness areas. We need to revitalize all the abandoned lands in the heart of our cities.

  2. Yogi♪♪♪

    I’ve noticed for some time that one of Tulsa’s suburbs, Broken Arrow, has some areas that are in steep decline. Even some areas of south Tulsa are showing blight. It seems, from my short list of acquaintances, that what is happening is that people are either hopscotching further out to newer areas or moving in, leaving a blight zone of housing that was built in the 70’s that has not stood the test of time well in either quality of construction or syle of house.

  3. Kent fischer

    Interesting comment considering your comment when we visited at the Ymca. What will make the new homes of suburbia not become the ghettos of fifty years from now? Same suburban locations, same distances or further from central downtown, even longer times before there will be any mass transit. Maybe the inner city with an older house isn’t so bad.


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