Building Suburbia: Highways and Housing in Postwar America Web Quest Step 1

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Building Suburbia: Highways and Housing in Postwar America Web Quest
Step 1:
Read historian Kenneth Jackson’s interview on “How the Suburbs Changed America." After reading the interview, answer the following questions:
1. What did returning veterans want for their families?
2. What social values facilitated suburban development after World War II?

Step 2:

Examine the following table from the U.S. Census: Population by Residence and Race: 1950-1970. Look at the first category: Total:

1. How does the central city population change from 1950 to 1970?

2. How does the suburban (outside central city) population change? Construct a bar graph of the percentage of central city and suburban population

3. Now look at the White and African-American populations; how do those two populations differ in rates of growth in the center city and the suburban areas during those two decades?

Step 3:

In your group, go to the Automobile in American Life and Society website. Examine one of the sections of the exhibit—environment, race, or gender, reading the particular sections listed below.

As you read your section, and carefully examine at the accompanying images (larger versions with captions appear when the user clicks on the image), should consider the following questions in their group:

1. What is the effect of the automobile on the city? On the suburb?

2. What is the role of government (local, state, and federal) in developing suburban communities?

3. In old and new communities (center city and suburb), how did family life change?

4. What was liberating about the new suburban region?

5. What sorts of problems were created and for whom?

Step 4:

Each group should choose one image from their section and write a short paragraph explaining what this image reveals about the auto, city and suburb in postwar life. Each group will present their image and paragraph to the entire class. Prepare for a class discussion to compare each of the three readings considering these three questions:

1. What was the role of space, race, and gender in changing urban and suburban life?

2. How did the relationship between the city and suburb change in the 1950s and 1960s? Why?

3. Who benefited? Who lost?

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