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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Paradise’s Charred Remains | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Paradise’s Charred Remains

A Photographer and a Writer Document Five Generations of Family Mementos After the 2019 Camp Fire

On November 8, 2018, endless images streamed from the Camp Fire in my hometown of Paradise, California. A single day generated thousands of pictures that filled the world with a …

Auto Draft | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Picturing Blood and Kinship

After Eunice San Miguel Recovered From Cancer, She Painted Her Relationship to Her Family and Her Body in a New Way

On the morning of December 9, 2017, I was driving north on the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles when I received a call. It was the doctor I had …

The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’

Through Photography, Science Has Given Humanity a Sense of Itself

When the Voyager 1 space probe was launched in 1977, it was equipped with a camera to chronicle its travels through the cosmos. One of the images that astronomer Carl …

Can Muscle Cars Really Fly? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Muscle Cars Really Fly?

Matthew Porter’s Photographs of an American Symbol Conjure Dreamlike Worlds

Muscle cars are a quintessential American symbol: fast, powerful, and entirely impractical. But perhaps it’s their impracticability that makes these gas-guzzling, aggressively loud vehicles coveted by so many. Having a …

Chasing the Sun’s Medicinal Rays | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Chasing the Sun’s Medicinal Rays

At the Turn of the 20th Century, Southern California Became a Testing Ground for Healthy Living

Southern California has long attracted those seeking a mild climate, a healthy lifestyle, and sunshine. According to Lyra Kilston, author of Sun Seekers: The Cure of California, the origins of …