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Suburbs evolve in different ways. Some, like Levittown on New York’s Long Island, are mass-produced experiments in affordable housing. Others are random urban overspill, like outside any Chinese city. There are exclusive but boring gated communities; low-income, densely populated housing projects on the periphery or simply the nondescript interstitial zones that the Pet Shop Boys once sang about in the 1980s song “Suburbia”. Most get a bad rap.

But while a good suburb is hard to find, some do offer personality: a quality of life that may not be…



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