The White Picket Fence Was All Race's Suburban Goal Essay

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The suburban life is a dream which people of all economic backgrounds sought. Although many families were not able to realize the ideal white picket fence suburb experience which one often imagines when speaking of the suburbs, they still created a suburb of their own. The desire for a suburban home to call their own was largely due to the notion that a home provided a sense of security; it was safety net (Nicolaides and Wiese 2006:213). This safety net could not be obtained in the central city because people were simply not able to buy an apartment or condominium and instead were simply forced to rent. Moving to the suburbs and purchasing a home was seen as a good investment, and people of all races wanted in on this investment. Despite …show more content…

This consequently led to the creation of the “unplanned suburbs”. These suburbs were makeshift homes built by individual families using scrap materials. “The job of self building typically involved the entire family” and could take months, if not years to complete (Nicolaides and Wiese 2006:214). For many poor Americans building a home was a long process that involved the whole family and came with a lot of sacrifice.
Despite the fact that the process of constructing a home took much longer for working class families, in the end the unplanned suburb home owners were the same as the early suburb homes. An example of this is the addition separate living areas instead of one main room. Mary Helen Ponce describes that her “…father built los cuartitos. The men’s rooms, as we called them were separate from the main house, with windows that looked out on the front and back yards, and had room for several beds” (Nicolaides and Wiese 2006:205). Just like the earlier suburbs which evolved from a one room unit into a home with separate living areas. The ubiquitous white picket fence that comes to mind when we think about suburbs was sometimes part of the makeshifts homebuilder’s dream. Mary describes her father’s feelings of their white picket dream “my father’s pride and joy was the white picket fence. It faced Hoyt Street and was his original design, or so he liked to think” (Nicolaides and Wiese 2006:206).

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