• environmentalism;
  • suburbs;
  • urban planning

ABSTRACT. In the late 1950s and early 1960s a variety of Americans began to protest the loss of open space to suburban sprawl. The critics of sprawl—William Whyte, most notably—argued that open space had great aesthetic, social, and ecological value. To preserve open space, activists lobbied for the acquisition of public land and touted land-saving forms of development. Although both efforts brought important successes, both proved inadequate. Even so, the open-space debate had enduring consequences: It shaped later efforts to force builders to meet new environmental obligations, and it played a key role in the evolution of the environmental movement.