"elegiac eloquence" --Rachel Hadas
"A wonderful guide to the terrible things being done in the American landscape." --Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
"beautifully-made poems that are both erudite and wise"
--Elizabeth Alexander
"the standard work on the suburban landscape in the United States."
--Ann Forsyth
"A compelling guide for the next generation of urban historians, preservationists, environmental activists, and public artists."
--Sam Bass Warner, Jr.


Planetizen Ten Best Books in Urban Studies
Discover Top Twenty Books in Science
The Independent (London) Pick of the Picture Books

A lexicon of the colorful slang, from alligator investment to zoomburb, that defines sprawl in America today, illustrated with aerial photographs by Jim Wark.

Duck, ruburb, tower farm, big box, and pig-in-a-python are among dozens of zany terms invented by real estate developers and designers today to characterize land use practices and the physical elements of sprawl. Sprawl in the environment, based on the metaphor of a person spread out, is hard to define. This concise book engages its meaning, explains common building patterns, and illustrates the visual culture of sprawl. Seventy-five stunning color aerial photographs, each paired with a definition, convey the impact of excessive development and provide verbal and visual vocabulary needed by professionals, public officials, and citizens to critique uncontrolled growth in the American landscape.

‘An eye-popping compendium of 51 ‘built conditions’ and the memorable terms that describe them.’
––The Boston Globe

‘[A]landmark contribution to this literature.’
––The Nation

‘A mere glance through the pages of this book offers a quick education about the excesses of the recently built environment. Hayden…provides a combination of informed but breezy text and 75 large, crisp color images that greatly simplify the task of 'decoding everyday American landscapes.'...This book is a concise guide to not only sprawl itself but to the powerful political and financial forces that sustain it.’
––Publisher's Weekly

‘Americans do not have to tolerate sprawl…but act now, or forever clutch a survivor's copy of 'A Field Guide to Sprawl'.’
––San Diego Union-Tribune

‘May well establish Ms. Hayden as the Roger Tory Peterson of Sprawl.’
––The New York Times

‘Engagingly organized and splendidly photographed.’
––Wall Street Journal

‘A wonderful guide to the terrible things being done to the American landscape.’
––Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

‘Novel...a compact, quirky, self-styled 'devil's dictionary'...fascinating color aerial photos.’
––Library Journal

ISBN: 0-393-73125-1
W.W. Norton $24.95
144 pages, cloth, 75 color illus.

Take the Sprawl Quiz!

Dolores Hayden, A Field Guide to Sprawl
Sprawl Quiz

1. An alligator is:
A. a housemate who snaps at you
B. a green appliqué on your date’s pink polo shirt
C. a real estate investment producing no income

2. You talk to your friends about TOADS:
A. the ugliest buildings you have ever seen
B. because it is springtime
C. temporary, abandoned, obsolete,or derelict structures

3. How many waste tires sit on tire mountains and tire dumps in the U.S.?
A. 1,000,000
B. 100,000,000
C. 500,000,000

4. Litter-on-a-stick refers to:
A. throwing away a popsicle
B. failing to recycle newspapers
C. outdoor advertising, especially billboards

5. Ball-pork has been defined as:
A. hot dogs at the Yankees’ game
B. too many pigs crowded into a pen
C. a new stadium provided at taxpayers’ expense for a privately-owned ball team

6. “Rurban” describes rapid urbanization in rural areas. A sociologist coined the term in:
A. 2004
B. 1994
C. 1946

7. A demographer has defined fifty-three “boomburbs” in the United States as:
A. places with over 100,000 residents that are not the largest cities in their metro areas
B. suburban places that have maintained double digit population growth in recent decades
C. both A and B are required to define a boomburb

8. LOS-F is engineering jargon for “level of service, failing.” It is most commonly used to refer to:
A. the effects of drought on water systems
B. electrical blackouts on the power grid
C. traffic jams

9. Businessmen and public officials participating in a “growth machine”:
A. shorten the time from planting to harvest
B. boost a stock
C. promote real estate development

10. The “mansion subsidy” which promotes monster houses is a personal income tax deduction for home mortgage interest, points, and property taxes (covering up to two homes and a principal of $1 million). Every year it costs the U.S. government:
A. $10 million
B. $100 million
C. $100 billion

11. A developer who creates a “pig-in-a-python” has built:
A. a dump
B. an overly wide intersection
C. an edge city extended from a strip

12. “Dead worm” is used to critique:
A. environmental pollution
B. dangling wires
C. cul-de-sac layouts in residential subdivisions

(All answers are C.)

Sprawl Vocabulary

Asphalt nation
Ball pork
Big box
Car glut
Clustered world
Edge node
Export garbage
Ground cover
Growth machine
Impervious surface
Litter on a stick
Logo building
Mall glut
Mansion subsidy
Manufactured housing
Noise wall
Pork chop lot
Power center
Power grid
Put parsley round the pig
Rural slammer
Sitcom suburb
Snout house
Starter castle
Streetcar buildout
Tank farm
Tire dump
Tower farm
Tract mansion
Truck city
Water feature