Urban Planner Seeks New Vocabulary to Describe Sprawl

Delores Hayden, a Yale professor of architecture, urbanism, and American studies, found herself struggling when she tried to describe the characteristic features of the sprawling suburbs surrounding American cities — features that are now ubiquitous but which have emerged so quickly, historically speaking, that our ability to discuss them is limited. So she decided to develop a sort of dictionary, and her “Field Guide to Sprawl” will be released next month. Some highlights: “privatopia” is a gated community where residents accept restrictions in exchange for a sense of safety; “lulu” stands for Locally Unwanted Land Use; a “boomburb” is a suburb growing exponentially, but not quite as fast as a “zoomburb.” Hayden hopes that by developing a common language, she can enhance the growing body of scholarship and public discussion of the not-quite-urban, not-quite-rural areas that are coming to dominate the country.