James O’Connell


The Hub's Metropolis:
Greater Boston's Suburban Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth

This event includes a book signing


September 13, 2013
3:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store is pleased to welcome community and urban planner and author JAMES O'CONNELL as he discusses his latest book The Hub's Metropolis: Greater Boston's Suburban Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth.

The Hub’s Metropolis: Boston’s Suburban Development, is the first comprehensive historical overview of Boston’s suburban development, from the earliest country estates to suburban sprawl and the smart growth movement. This book provides historical context for understanding the region’s contemporary planning efforts that are addressing the challenges of low-density sprawl, climate change, and the global information age economy. The Hub’s Metropolis combines the perspectives of an urban historian and an experienced Massachusetts urban planner.

The Hub’s Metropolis examines ten periods of Greater Boston’s metropolitan development:

  • Traditional Village Centers and Proto-Suburbs (1800-1860)
  • Country Retreats (1820-1920)
  • Railroad Suburbs (1840-1920)
  • Streetcar Suburbs (1870-1930)
  • Metropolitan Parkway Suburbs (1895-1945)
  • Mill Towns (1820-present)
  • Postwar Automobile Suburbs (1945-1970)
  • Boston Redefines the Center City (1945-present)
  • Interstates, Exurbs, and Sprawl (1970-present)
  • Smart Growth Era (1990-present)

The Hub’s Metropolis describes how Boston has been a national pace-setter for many features of suburbanization, including country estates, railroad suburbs, streetcar suburbs, land use zoning, open space conservation, highway beltways, shopping centers, office parks, edge cities, and central city revitalization. Landscape architecture pioneer Frederick Law Olmsted promoted model suburban designs from his home and office in the garden suburb of Brookline. The Metropolitan District Commission’s park-and-parkway system, which was created around 1900, was the country’s first example of regional planning. The city of Boston is noteworthy for its vibrant central city, which suffered a painful postwar decline, but crafted a nationally-regarded revival.

James O’Connell
James O’Connell

James O’Connell

James C. (Jim) O’Connell is a Community Planner at the Boston Office of the Northeast Region of the National Park Service, where he specializes in planning for historic sites and heritage areas. He has a B.A. from Bates College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American Urban and Cultural History from the University of Chicago.

Jim has written many articles and five books on planning and New England history. His latest book is The Hub’s Metropolis: Greater Boston’s Suburban Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth (2013). Other books include Becoming Cape Cod: Creating a Seaside Resort (2003), The Pioneer Valley Reader (1995), Shaping an Urban Image: Downtown Planning in Springfield, Massachusetts (1990), and The Inside Guide to Springfield and the Pioneer Valley (1986). He has written essays on regional planning and civic leadership for two editions of Governing Greater Boston (2002, 2003), an annual public policy review published by the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.

While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.

Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:

  • Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
  • Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
  • Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.

Ordering a signed book by phone:

  • Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
  • If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.


Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.

Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!

Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.

I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.

More questions? Give us a call!

Purchase the Book
Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
General Info
(617) 661-1515

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