When Americans Bought the Illusion of ‘Indoor-Outdoor Living’

Postwar Suburban Homes With Big Windows and Patios Sold the Idea of Leisure—and Air Conditioning

Think of postwar America, and what often comes to mind is a white, heterosexual family, pictured in a domestic suburban environment. You can tell this family lives in the suburbs because there is a lawn in the background, a tree framed in a picture window, a swimming pool glimmering behind a glass wall.

This almost-mythical family you are visualizing is drawn directly from a generation of magazine ads, commonplace during the mid-20th century, that portrayed so-called “indoor-outdoor living,” where the refinements of domesticity were combined with the restorative powers of …

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How Trader Joe’s Exploits a Fading California Fantasy | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Trader Joe’s Exploits a Fading California Fantasy

In the Golden State It’s Getting Harder to Live the Good Life on the Cheap

For years, I’ve told children, newspaper editors, and other credulous people that I’m the Joe of Trader Joe’s. That’s, of course, a lie. But it is true that the store …

The Woolen Shoes That Made Revolutionary-Era Women Feel Patriotic | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Woolen Shoes That Made Revolutionary-Era Women Feel Patriotic

Calamanco Footwear Was Sturdy, Egalitarian, and Made in the USA

If you were a wealthy or middle-class woman living in British America around the time of the Revolution, you probably owned a pair of calamanco shoes. Like sneakers or …

How PG&E Has Unified a Divided California | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How PG&E Has Unified a Divided California

The Utility’s Failures Are Forcing the Golden State to Acknowledge a Crisis in Both Climate and Democracy

Thank you, PG&E.

I felt moved to write this thank-you note because so many of your 16 million California customers have been so ungrateful. No corporation in this state has done …

America’s Hidden History of Conquest and the Meaning of the West | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

America’s Hidden History of Conquest and the Meaning of the West

Historian Patricia Nelson Limerick on How Invaders Came to See Themselves as Victims, Then Romanticized the Native Americans They Displaced

Patricia Nelson Limerick is a leading scholar of the American West, and the faculty director and chair of the board of the Center of the American West at the University …

The Joys of Shearing Ornery, 250-Pound Sheep | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Joys of Shearing Ornery, 250-Pound Sheep

I Left My Tech Job for a Historic Profession That Is Uniquely Egalitarian, Diverse, and Rewarding

My journey to a vocation as a sheep shearer began in 2007 when I moved to California to take a chance on the man who would, happily, become my husband. …