• Brendan Riley

Should a city native still feel guilty about moving to the suburbs? Nicholas Lemann thinks not.

In 1986, when Lemann moved from Austin, Texas, to New York, “the prevailing idea was that the suburbs were for the privileged few and the cities for the poor, the bohemian, and the principled,” he wrote in a recent New Yorker essay—“Get Out Of Town: Has the celebration of cities gone too far?” (The essay is behind a paywall; the link is to the abstract.) The suburbs were seen as “conformist, anti-intellectual, homogeneous, antifeminist, alcoholic, and shot through with anomie.” Almost all of Lemann’s friends who grew up in New York suburbs vowed in adolescence to leave as soon as they could, and never return.

That view of cities and suburbs persisted, Lemann wrote. But lately, “Cities and suburbs have started to seem less like fundamental opposites, and more like points on a continuum.”