California Dream: Opinion Essay

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The California dream has been powerful all through the ages. However, this dream did not stay the same throughout history. With the changing time, this dream evolved and to accurately describe this California Dream, we need to analyze it according to particular times in history and the wars and events surrounding it. These dreams were initiated by the Spanish Dreams of spreading Christianization, Mexican Dreams of expansion, American Dreams of prosperity and wealth perpetuated by the Gold Rush of 1848, the fame of Hollywood, the rise of the automobile industry, growing railroads and most importantly the security and safety provided by Suburban California. Post-war is when people looked for stability and routine. Suburban California provided the “necessary illusion of predictability” (Waldie, 2) which was a dream for the war-torn people hungry for peace. It provided an escape from the harsh realities of life and a balance between the noise and hustle of a growing city and the peace and comfort of returning to your family in the suburbs- A perfect dream; California is the place where one’s dreams and hopes become reality, in the post-war time through suburbs. Thus, Suburban California reimagined the California Dream in the post-war time and place while exhibiting features of the older version of California Dream that persisted.

The houses in Suburban California were “about the safest place you could be” (Waldie, 250). These Suburbs choreographed a way of life in which people found the desirable balance between private and public life- There was enough distance between the houses built here that its residents where “grateful for the distance” (Waldie, 27). However, the distance was such that neighbors could easily be in each other’s lives. “Daily life here had an inertia that people believed in” (Waldie, 24). The fact that “there wasn’t much crime in the neighborhood” (Waldie, 75) only added to its attraction and dream.

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As the automobile industry started booming in the 1950’s, people started buying cars and using the main roads to commute between the burgeoning city and the peaceful suburbs. The many roads built connected different densities and there was a real estate boom which led to the t growing construction of houses. “The railroad profited from the square miles of California land the federal government gave them as construction bounty and railroad towns were built (Waldie, 130) “As many as hundred houses a day were built in suburbs between 1950 and 1952” (Waldie, 16) and “no houses stayed empty for too long” (Waldie, 63). This economic boom was attained from the savings of the middle-class and spent on houses and real estate. The ownership of homes in Suburbs increased which led to economic advantages and industrial growth. The largest shopping center at that time was built around the suburban neighborhood, a fact which is still mentioned when city officials are asked to describe the city (Waldie, 146). The shopping center did not only have 90 stores, but also offices, a hospital, post office, motel several government offices and a bowling alley. Further, it also had a fall out tunnel shelter. The suburbs had it all- recreational activities, necessary services, nearness to cities and most importantly safety. The conveniences of life were amalgamated with the necessities of life to piece together a freer kind of urbanism, a whole new life called the Suburban California Dream. This is where and when Suburban California was placing itself in the center of the American Dream and defining what leisure meant.

“Buyers did not need encouragement to purchase these houses. When the sales office opened in the 1950’s, twenty-five thousand people were waiting” (Waldie, 66). The houses filled quickly and even Catholics and Jews lived in these neighborhoods. Farming here was excellent. Thus, Agrarianism existed with social clubs, businesses and social and cultural institutions to complement it. Here, people’s problems were limited to neighbors’ houses and the suburbs themselves which is a huge contrast from worrying about life and death, hunger and war wounds. The safety and security that the California Suburbs provided cannot be emphasized enough since they were the main attractions to these suburbs to begin with. The areas near these neighborhoods were some of the best-protected areas against the malignant effects of hydrogen and atom bombs. “In the cities most recent survey, 92% of the residents believed this suburb is a desirable place in which to live” (Waldie, 24). It was the place where restless people could be still, and one could feel safe. The Suburban California represents the symbol of tranquillity, modernity and progress in a post-war era, providing people with the predictability they need. The California Suburbs made it possible for people to have access to urban amenities while staying in a remote place and earn their revenue through farming and other activities.

The beauty of the Suburbs calls out to the people hungry for a balance in life, looking for peace and excitement, security and belonging, growth and stability, innovation and escape. It fulfills certain hopes and dreams that can only be reality in California- the place where different dreams of various people materialized. While people’s hopes and desires change, California remains constant as the place where these dreams come true, where people find what they are searching for. The Suburban dream enticed people who wanted a family home, health, safety, nature and culture while enjoying the perks of a progressive city. Thus, Suburban California reimagined the California Dream in the post-war time and place while exhibiting features of the older version of the California Dream that persisted.


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