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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.

A Field Guide to Sprawl was selected by the urban web site Planetizen for its list of "Top Ten Books in Urban Studies" and by Discover magazine for its list of "Top 20 Books in Science." Features on the book appeared in The New York Times and the Boston Globe.

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

  • Paperback
  • June 2006
  • ISBN 978-0-393-73198-9
  • 8.1 × 7 in / 128 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“A landmark contribution to this literature.” — Boston Globe

“[P]rovides a great hawk’s-eye overview of exactly what uncontrolled growth has done to the American landscape…a must-read.” — The Statement

“A flair for words and a collection of stunning photographs. . . . Captivating.” — New Urban News

“May well establish Ms. Hayden as the Roger Tory Peterson of Sprawl.” — New York Times

“A concise guide to not only sprawl but to the powerful political and financial forces that sustain it.” — Publishers Weekly

“[T]he images are fascinating and, in many cases, a frightening testament to human impact on the landscape.” — Ben Brain, Amateur Photographer

“You have to know what to call something before you can do anything about it. So if you really hate the way urban blight is despoiling virgin landscapes, take a look at this snappy pictorial guide to developer slang, US-style, which could rival Dr Seuss for verbal inventiveness.” — Civic Focus Magazine

“Educational as well as humorous…a great stocking stuffer for the environmentalist in the family.” — Village Books Newsletter

“[T]he often beguiling beauty of sprawl photographed from the air.” — Nicholas A. Phelps, Environment & Planning B: Planning & Design

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

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


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