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A Field Guide to Sprawl

Dolores Hayden (Author, Yale University), Jim Wark (Photographs by)


A visual lexicon of the colorful slang, from alligator investment to zoomburb, that defines sprawl in America. "May well establish Ms. Hayden as the Roger Tory Peterson of Sprawl." —New York Times

Duck, ruburb, tower farm, big box, and pig-in-a-python are among the dozens of zany terms invented by real estate developers and designers today to characterize land-use practices and the physical elements of sprawl. Sprawl in the environment, based on the metaphor of a person spread out, is hard to define. This concise book engages its meaning, explains common building patterns, and illustrates the visual culture of sprawl. Seventy-five stunning color aerial photographs, each paired with a definition, convey the impact of excessive development. This "engagingly organized and splendidly photographed" (Wall Street Journal) book provides the verbal and visual vocabulary needed by professionals, public officials, and citizens to critique uncontrolled growth in the American landscape.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • July 2004
  • ISBN 978-0-393-73125-5
  • 8.4 × 7.3 in / 128 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

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  1. Book CoverA Field Guide to Sprawl


Endorsements & Reviews

“The book's tongue-in-cheek tone makes the weighty subject matter go down easy.” — Dwell

“In their illustrated 'devil's dictionary' of land development gone amok, Hayden and Wark highlight such blights as the LULU ( a locally unwanted land use, such as  anuclear waste dump) and the TOAD (Temporary, obsolete, abandoned, or derelict site).” — Discover

“[A] landmark contribution to this literature.” — The Nation

“An eye-popping compendium of 51 'built conditions' and the memorable terms that describe them.” — Jennifer Schuessler, Boston Globe

“A flair for words and a collection of stunning photographs. . . Captivating . . . Hayden packs a lot of information and a wealth of clever coinages into a brief, quick-moving text.  The Field Guide will both informa nd entertain readers who are disturbed by the wastefulness and disconnection of conventional development.” — Philip Langdon, New Urban News

“Zooming alligators! This is a handy introduction to some curious ways of using the land.” — landartnet.org

“Novel…a compact, quirky, self-styled 'devil's dictionary'….fascinating color aerial photos.” — David Soltesz, Library Journal

“Field guides to plants abound, but where can an amateur (un)naturalist find something to lead him or her through the jungle of terms used in modern land development? A Field Guide to Sprawl provides such a resource.” — American Scientist

“With Hayden's informative text and Wark's beautiful photographs, Sprawl is infinitely easier to digest than the actual examples of sprawl presently surrounding us.” — Tia Blassingame, New York Arts Magazine

“Americans do not have to tolerate sprawl…but act now, or forever clutch a survivor's copy of A Field Guide to Sprawl.” — Ann Jarmusch, San Diego Union-Tribune

“Introduces an array of fresh and frequently funny expressions to descrive what's happening to our urban and suburban landscapes.” — Dale White, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Hayden argues that, in its vividness, slang fuses description and critique, mobilizing the imagination in a way that expert speech cannot. . . . Once again, Hayden has chosen to look where others had not thought to look, and it is to our benefit.  Armed with more knowledge of what came before us and with what stands before us, we are better prepared to take position within the contested landscape of sprawl.” — Jacqueline Tatom, Journal of Architectural Education

“A wonderful guide to the terrible things being done to the American landscape.” — Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

Also by Dolores Hayden All

  1. Book CoverRedesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work and Family Life