The opening scene of David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet begins as a snapshot of the beatific suburban life to which many aspire—until the camera pushes deep underneath the well-manicured lawn and reveals a foundation of violence and mess, as beetles and other insects collide in the dirt. This chaotic display suggests that the above-ground trappings of the “suburban dream”—from white picket fences to the pristine homes they enclose—are no less disturbing. Suburbia hasn’t always been treated with such suspicion. Historian Kenneth T. Jackson argued that the growth of suburban settlements—city-adjacent residential neighborhoods built with commuters in mind—was intended to create a new sense of self and family. “The new ideal was no longer to be part of a close community, but to have a self-contained unit, a private wonderland walled off from the rest of the world, ” he wrote in Crabgrass Frontier, his 1985 study of America’s suburban sprawl. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-One Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.