Seven American Utopias:
The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975

Mellon Grant for a Publication in the Humanities

MIT Press Classics

From the time of its discovery, settlers described North America as a new Eden and a new Jerusalem. Some determined idealists carved out collective enclaves to develop models of what they believed to be more perfect towns, and all communitarian groups consciously attempted to express their ideals in their buildings and landscapes. A close study of these environments reveals the interplay between ideology and architecture, between the social design and the physical design of American utopian communities.

At the heart of this remarkable book are studies of seven communitarian groups, collectively stretching over nearly two centuries and the full breadth of the American continent: the Shakers of Hancock, Massachusetts; the Mormons of Nauvoo, Illinois; the Fourierists of Phalanx, New Jersey; the Perfectionists of Oneida, New York; the Inspirationists of Amana, Iowa; the Union Colonists of Greeley, Colorado; and the Cooperative Colonists of Llano del Rio, California. Hayden asks how each of these groups coped with three dilemmas common to all socialist societies: conflicts between authoritarian and participatory processes, between communal
and private territory, and between unique and replicable community plans. 

The book contains over 260 historic and contemporary photographs and drawings to illustrate the communitarian processes of design and building.

Reviews of the book:

Seven American Utopias is an exemplary book: provoking, scholarly, and utterly engrossing.

— Gillian Darley, Landscape Architecture

…a sophisticated study of the politics of design.

— Thomas Bender, The Journal of American History

An immense party.

— Francesco dal Co, Rinascita

A vital search for something other than the customary American design for exploiting the land.

Jane Holtz Kay, The Nation