In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg Murry travels from planet to planet in search of her missing father. One of the planets she visits is called Camazotz. Meg notices that all of the houses look exactly the same. She watches as all the children play in unison:
As the skipping rope hit the pavement, so
did the ball. As the rope curved over the head of the
jumping child, the child with the ball caught the ball. Down
came the ropes. Down came the balls. Over and over again.
Up. Down. All in rhythm. All identical. Like the houses.
Like the paths. Like the flowers.
Then the doors of all the houses opened simultaneously,
and out came women like a row of paper dolls. The print
of their dresses was different, but they all gave the appearance of being the same. Each woman stood on the steps of her house. Each clapped. Each child with the ball caught the ball. Each child with the skipping rope folded the rope.
This description of Camazotz is an enduring critique of post-war suburban conformity.
Urbanists tend to equate single family homes with suburbia. On some level, this makes sense. Levittown, was, after all, comprised of single family homes that all looked alike, much like those on Camazotz. However, single family homes have always been a part of urban geography. Even New York City has its share of single family homes.
What really makes a suburb?
Sidewalk-less streets and split-level homes are a part of the calculus, yes, but not the whole equation. In the famous horror novel, The Stepford Wives, Joanna Eberhart is uneasy about moving to the suburbs and leaving behind the "so-alive" city.