This article on the recent Suburbia exhibition at the London Transport Museum takes a brief look at the history of suburbia:
Rather than some authentic, uncomplicated, unplanned response to ordinary people’s desires, London’s suburbia was the product of both planning and speculation, heavily mediated, and marketed using an impressive degree of subterfuge. The garden suburb was the official face of suburbia. Developed in 1907 by Toynbee Hall’s chair, Henrietta Barnett, and carefully planned by the socialist and architectural traditionalist Raymond Unwin, it attempted to build William Morris’s socialist “nowhere” in a capitalist context. Unwin and his partner Barry Parker developed a style based on whitewash, pitched roofs and large gardens. This became the basis for its many successors. Yet it was also tightly planned and full of public spaces to encourage social interaction. In the same year, the London Underground opened Golders Green station, and promoted its rural joys in an advertisement campaign, as a means of selling season tickets. Golders Green was enveloped by new, unplanned housing, although the Underground’s posters invariably depicted Hampstead Garden Suburb.
The exhibition alludes to the fact that London’s private transport companies were the sponsors and often the creators of suburbia, extending their lines into open country, promoting the glories of the countryside, and then developing it out of existence.
(via Tomorrow Museum)