There is a vast multidisciplinary literature on U.S. suburbs. Through an urban historical lens, this article charts the public policies that gave way to the rise of a suburban society. It explores the evolution of scholarly historical thought on the roles that political processes and public policies played in the development of the suburban landscape. Major political and social movements, including the areas of housing, transportation, and race relations, are surveyed. The future prospects for metropolitan America suggest that politics and policy contributed to complex social, economic, and political realities that confront suburbs in an era of uncontrolled urban sprawl and mounting suburban decline.