chapter  1
22 Pages

Agents, Agency, and Urban Form: “The Making of the Urban Landscape”

ByPeter J. Larkham, Michael P. Conzen

Focusing on the amateur owner-builders, this chapter analyses their changing imprint on the American suburban scene from the 1920s to the late 1950s. This local and regional diversity was an important part of the American scene, in contrast, for example, to the more uniform character of development within England, but for analytical purposes, this continent wide diversity may actually muddy our understanding of the possibilities of owner-building. In general, then, the imprint of the owner-builder in North America took the form of anarchic individualism or of modest forms of private assistance. The experience of Peoria suggests that, between the 1920s and the 1950s, the characteristic imprint of the suburban owner-builder changed. The best-documented example is the program of publicly assisted self-help developed by the City of Stockholm, Sweden, in the late 1920s, which ran until the 1980s. Builders used locally manufactured kits, and subdivisions were very uniform, especially in the early years.