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Last Harvest: From Cornfield to New Town: Real Estate Development from…

by Witold Rybczynski

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2064109,429 (3.69)7
The bestselling author of Home and A Clearing in the Distance tells the compelling story of the transformation of a Pennsylvania cornfield into a RneotraditionalS housing development--taking the reader on a revelatory inside tour of real estate in America.
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Although I'm not an architect, developer, town supervisor, etc, I felt this was an interesting book. Rybczynski details how a farm in Pennsylvania becomes a suburb and goes into the history of development, housing, permits along the way. While I felt that some drawings or pictures of the historic places he talked about would help a layman like myself understand the concepts better, I did learn some and have found myself looking at houses and developments in a different way. It's fairly dry and not a quick read but I'd recommend it just because the topic seems unique.
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  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
I generally like Rybczynski's books quite a lot. I was hoping this one would have more of a discussion of the theory behind New Urbanism. Instead, I got interviews with developers & planning commissioners, and the transformation from an idea to a very different reality. So some interesting information about how the modern business and politics of housing work, but that's not what I was looking for. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
Honestly, I never would have expected to have been particularly interested in a book about the process by which a housing development came to be. But in the hands of Witold Rybczynski, this is a compelling, dramatic, very nearly unputdownable read. Interspersing details of septic systems and vinyl siding with a capsule history of zoning ordinances and suburban planning, Last Harvest is a remarkably good book. ( )
  JBD1 | Mar 16, 2014 |
A book that helped me understand why so many suburban developments look the same, and are so unsatisfying. It's the economics (and to a certain extent, the politics). Rybczynski profiles a development in the Philadelphia exurbs, from the first planning until the first families move in. All along, the developers have great intentions about making a 'new traditional development': but in the end, the economics (cost of the land and building process, and the need to appeal to mass taste) make the development a lot more similar to everything else.

Not as good as fascinating as some of Rybczynski's other insightful books on buildings and spaces, but still interesting. ( )
  teaperson | May 19, 2007 |
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The bestselling author of Home and A Clearing in the Distance tells the compelling story of the transformation of a Pennsylvania cornfield into a RneotraditionalS housing development--taking the reader on a revelatory inside tour of real estate in America.

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