What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation


The Surprisingly Modest Start to McMansion Sprawl

Builders Like the Campanelli Brothers Helped Fuel Midcentury Suburban Desire, from Massachusetts to Moscow

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By Barbara Miller Lane

After V-J Day—August 14, 1945—millions of World War II veterans came home and began to look for a place to live. New highways, cars, and government-sponsored mortgages encouraged them to dream big. Up until that point, Americans, especially immigrant Americans, had thought of the Land of Opportunity as the place where discipline and hard work would guarantee prosperity and upward social mobility. After the War, they believed they could have more. The American Dream now meant home ownership and spatial


Harvard Neurologist Doo Yeon Kim

Sometimes You Have to Start With Small, Boring Things

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Doo Yeon Kim is a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, where he studies Alzheimer’s disease. Before joining a Zócalo/Smithsonian “What It Means to Be American” panel discussion about creativity in America—“What Does American Ingenuity Look Like?”—he talked in the green room about not going out, not being mainstream, and teaching students to be patient.

Q: What first got you interested in neuroscience?
A: Its complexity.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do for fun in Cambridge?
A: I generally stay at home.