Suburbanites Seek Status Behind “Velvet Rope,” Argues Transit Activist Ross

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]


Why do so many Americans choose to live in the suburbs, despite the increasingly long commute times and lack of community often associated with these places?

Benjamin Ross, a Washington D.C.-based transit activist whose grass-roots lobbying efforts led to the planned Purple Line in Maryland, argues that suburbia has a persistent allure because it is a great “velvet rope” separating those of means from the rest of us.

Status-seeking, Ross says, is the psychological underpinning of suburbanization, leading Americans to seek out the cachet purported by suburbia’s bigger houses, bigger lots, and bigger SUVs. Ross makes a convincing argument to this effect in his new, meticulously-researched book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism.

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