Suburbs are significant to any understanding of Australian urbanization as they have been the dominant organizational element in the morphology of metropolitan areas. A case-study of suburban growth in Adelaide, South Australia, in the period from 1850 to 1930 suggests that dominant accounts of Australian suburbs of the era, as places of tranquillity, leisure, home and family, whose growth was driven by aspiration and social mobility, are largely illusory. Suburban growth was instead driven by speculation and economic opportunity. Accounts of commercial, recreational and industrial activity in Adelaide's suburban municipalities of the time suggests economically and socially diverse communities. Whereas the desire for the quarter or half acre block in the suburbs was most often due to its productive potential rather than bourgeois aspirations for seclusion and semi-rural tranquillity.
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