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Adam Caruso on The Grand Domestic Revolution
11 March, 2021
Dolores Hayden’s The Grand Domestic Revolution is a very important book. I still don’t understand how it took almost 40 years from the time of its original publication for me to read it. The hidden stories that Hayden rescues, tell the story of how a series of decisions taken in the first decades of the 20th century with regards to economic and urban policy in the United States. were specifically intended to suppress women’s role and power in society. The civic socialism of Frederick Law Olmsted, which shows the great landscape designer to be both a socialist and a feminist, is reclaimed alongside Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s uncomfortable history of the separation of home and work. There was no shortage of voices articulating the conditions of modernisation around the turn of the twentieth century by, and about women. Rather it is just that those powerful and compelling stories were officially suppressed. Hayden must have been working on this landmark book in New York at the same time that Kenneth Frampton was writing his Modern Architecture: A Critical History. That book was the main text in my first year history course, and looking back I wonder about the complete absence of Hayden’s histories within its pages.