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N Street Cohousing, Davis, California, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"

A work made of chromogenic print.

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  • A work made of chromogenic print.


March 2005


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

About this artwork


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


N Street Cohousing, Davis, California, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 2005


Chromogenic print


No markings recto or verso N Street Cohousing began in 1986 when two neighbors tore down the fence separating the yards of their 1950s tract houses. Over the next few years, more and more fence-removing parties were held on N Street, as the backyards of seventeen homes were gradually joined together to make a beautiful open space with vegetable and flower gardens, a play structure, a hot tub, a sauna, a chicken coop and a pond. Eventually, the neighbors began eating together. Feeling more fulfilled in their lives as a result of their common backyard and community meals, the group decided in 1991 to become a true cohousing group, and the large garage of one home was designated as a community center and equipped with a communal kitchen and dining room that could also function as a meeting room. Other initiatives have included a community laundry room, a wood working shop and a tool room. At present, a brand new community house is being built, completing the cohousing cycle, albeit retroactively. Although it arose through a process of gradual evolution within the midst of a suburban neighborhood, N Street has all the attributes of a classic cohousing community. The thirty-eight adults and seventeen children of the community share many of life’s joys and pains—and some of its meals—with one another, while maintaining separate homes and incomes, and privacy when needed. N Street has become a model for other groups in suburban America who are turning alienating housing into real community by tearing down the fences. From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005


Image: 26.4 × 33.1 cm (10 7/16 × 13 1/16 in.); Paper: 27.9 × 35.4 cm (11 × 13 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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