Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Huntington-USC Institute on California & West
Website URL
suburban history, American suburbs, social history, political history, race relations, ethnic relations
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I’m a Los Angeles-based historian specializing in American suburban history.  I’ve been especially interested in exploring histories of suburban diversity, breaking free of “Ozzie and Harriet” stereotypes to discover what happened when workers, the poor, immigrants and ethnic and racial groups became suburbanites. My latest book, The New Suburbia: How Diversity Remade Suburban Life in Los Angeles After 1945 (Oxford 2024), traces how the suburbs transitioned from lily-white to multiracial and reveals the compelling stories that unfolded through that change.  Latinos, Asian Americans, Black Americans, and immigrants from all over the globe made the LA ‘burbs their home – sometimes alongside whites, sometimes in their wake.  My book explores the dynamics of those transformations.  My other books include My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965 (Chicago 2002), a history of blue-collar suburbanites in southeast Los Angeles, and how their everyday lives shaped their political sensibilities (they ultimately ended up as Reagan Democrats), and The Suburb Reader 1st and 2nd editions (Routledge, 2006/2016), co-edited with my long-time friend and collaborator Andy Wiese.  It’s a big, broad survey of North American suburban history.

I’m currently involved in two grant-funded projects: The LA County Demographic Data Project, 1950-2010 funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the USC Libraries, and the EU Erasmus+ Programme transnational initiative, “Urbanism and Suburbanization in the EU Countries and Abroad: Reflection in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts.”

I’ve worked as a consultant on historic preservation projects for Survey LA, the LA Conservancy, and the state of California. I’m co-coordinator of the L.A History and Metro Studies group at the Huntington Library.  And I’ve served on academic and editorial boards over the years, including most recently the Governing Council of the American Historical Association, and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s working group on LA and Civic Memory.

I’m a founding partner of History Studio, a partnership of award-winning historians and scholars providing expert research, script vetting, and original content for the entertainment industry and other creative producers.

I’m currently a research affiliate at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

Recent Publications


The New Suburbia: How Diversity Remade Suburban Life in Los Angeles After 1945 (Oxford, 2024)

Becky M. Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, eds., The Suburb Reader, 1st and 2nd Editions (New York: Routledge, 2006/2016).

My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002)


Opinion: Can’t afford a house in L.A.? Here’s how that happened,” Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2023.

“Are Latinx suburbs ethnoburbs? And why it matters,” in MetropoLatinx: The Significance of Latinidad in Urban History, edited by A K. Sandoval-Strausz (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).

“Migrations,” chapter in A Los Angeles County Almanac, edited by William Deverell and Wade Graham (forthcoming)

Jon Christensen and Becky Nicolaides, “Op-Ed: How to make sure the L.A. River Master Plan fulfills its promise to the Gateway Cities,” Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2021.

The Real Suburbs: Unpacking Distortions and Truths about America’s Suburbs,” UCLA Center for the Study of Women Blog, September 2020.

“From Resourceful to Illegal: The Racialized History of Garage Housing in Los Angeles,” Boom California, January 31, 2019.

Becky Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, “Suburbanization Since 1945,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (online), April 2017.

Suburban Metamorphosis,” UCLA Center for the Study of Women Blog and HippoReads, December 2016.

Becky Nicolaides, with maps by Jennifer Mapes, “Map Room:  Stay-at-Home Moms in Los Angeles County, 1950-2000,” Map Room feature, California History, vol. 93, no. 3 (Fall 2016), 2-8.

Becky Nicolaides and James Zarsadiaz, “Design Assimilation in Suburbia:  Asian Americans, Built Landscapes, and Suburban Advantage in the San Gabriel Valley since 1970,” Journal of Urban History, 43, 2 (2017) published OnlineFirst November 5, 2015.

* 2015 Arnold Hirsch Award, Urban History Association

* 2018 Catherine W. Bishir Prize, Vernacular Architecture Forum

“Introduction: Asian American Suburban History” for the “Special Issue: Asians in the Suburbs,” guest edited by Becky Nicolaides, Journal of American Ethnic History 34: 2 (Winter 2015).  With articles by Willow Lung Amam, Jennifer Fang, and Mark Padoongpatt.

“The Social Fallout of Racial Politics: Civic Engagement in Suburban Pasadena, 1950-2000,” in Making Suburbia, edited by John Archer, Paul Sandul, and Katherine Solomonson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015)

Becky Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, “Suburban Disequilibrium,” New York Times, Sunday Review section, April 7, 2013.  Also on the Opinionator blog:


Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Family, Gender, Local & Regional, Race, Urban History