I’ve been watching lectures from a course on Academic Earth called France Since 1871. I am interested because almost everything I have known about French history has been in the context of American or, perhaps, English history. More on that later.
In a lecture on the urban rebuilding of Paris (mid-19th century), Professor Merriman notes that in the United States, the suburbs are the place that people go to escape the Big Bad City. Whereas in Europe, the suburbs are the place to which the riffraff is (are?) exiled. Fascinating.
Isn’t that a huge part of the American character? That we want land. We want space. But the work is to be found in the cities, so the best we can do is commute from the suburbs.
I could live in a college town, or a small town. I could even go rural, assuming that there was Internet and a near-enough airport. And UPS. But I don’t think I could go urban for real. Even when I went to college – AU is pretty much in the suburbs.
My friend Rich loves the city. He loves it so much that when he figured out that he couldn’t afford a place he really liked in Chicago, he moved to Milwaukee. Just to live in an urban environment. For me, the city is an event, not an everyday way of life.
I need space. I need green. And I love my car. I am ok with being the riffraff.