How exactly do small towns become suburbs? How do country roads turn into commercial strips? And what can planners do to prevent these changes in the future?

Using the state of Vermont as the rural ideal, the authors, Julie Campoli, Elizabeth Humstone, and Alex S. MacLean, compare contemporary and traditional development to demonstrate how today’s primary way of developing land-suburban sprawl is forever changing the look of rural American. Using a host of aerial photographs-many altered through computer simulation to illustrate how landscapes are transformed over time- Above and Beyond  argues for a return to traditional development patterns that produce more compact cities and towns.

Highlighting widespread trends in contemporary land development-from fragmentation (our tendency to spread out) to separation (our tendency to allocate separate areas of town for living, working, shopping and playing)-the authors offer case examples of communities that have succeeded in curbing those trends. They show how these communities have invigorated their town centers; lured home buyers back to town; integrated working, shopping and recreation areas; nurtured a sense of identity and community; rewritten land-use regulations to allow for more compact developing; and overcome the "cars rule" mentality of suburban development.


American Planners Association Press, 2001