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A Gradual Reawakening: Broadacre City and a New American Agrarianism

Abstract

Frank Lloyd Wright’s utopian plan Broadacre City described a decentralized, agrarian landscape. Post-World War II American suburbanization reflected Wright’s vision in many ways. In response, a large body of literature on the harms of decentralized development was established and numerous alternative models for urban growth that aim to increase density, including New Urbanism, were developed. However, the agrarian ethos of Broadacre City is missing from American suburbia as well as its prominent alternatives. This absence is not incidental; the growing literature on biophilia describes the human need for nature to live healthy and satisfying lives. The contemporary rising interest in urban agriculture is an insurgent demand for the opportunity to reconnect with the land once again. In this paper I argue that planners must recognize this insurgence by incorporating agrarian design, not only denser design, in the latest models for urban growth.

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