Friday, July 2, 2010
In the New York Times Opinionator Blog, architectural historian Jayne Merkel has published When Less Was More. She notes the overlooked fact that for most of the "golden age" of American suburban expansion in the postwar years, the average suburban home was well under 1,000 square feet.
We tend to think of the decades immediately following World War II as a time of exuberance and growth, with soldiers returning home by the millions, going off to college on the G.I. Bill and lining up at the marriage bureaus.
But when it came to their houses, it was a time of common sense and a belief that less truly could be more. During the Depression and the war, Americans had learned to live with less, and that restraint, in combination with the postwar confidence in the future, made small, efficient housing positively stylish.
As we find ourselves in an era of diminishing resources, could “less” become “more” again? If so, the mid-20th-century building boom might provide some inspiration.
The article goes on to discuss the movements in early and mid 20th century architecture; the influence of modernism (but not Le Corbusier!), and has great photos ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright buildings to Levittown.
But like much of American society, the middle-class home began to grow over time. The average size of an American house in 1950 was 983 square feet. Slowly, though, both more square footage and more amenities became part of the American dream, so that by 2004 the average home topped 2,300 square feet.
This blog is an Amazon affiliate. Help support Land Use Prof Blog by making purchases through Amazon links on this site at no cost to you.
- Jamie Baker Roskie on Uber Goes to the State House Seeking Preemption of Local Government Control
- Stephen R. Miller on Why are building inspectors so often on the take?
- Josh Hightree on What makes people leave rural areas, and what makes them stay
- Jessica Shoemaker on What makes people leave rural areas, and what makes them stay
- Jamie Baker Roskie on Why are building inspectors so often on the take?
- New Land Use Articles on SSRN
- What to make of the fierce new debate over the efficacy of California's energy codes?
- The W&L Top 100 Law Review Rankings and the Land Use Law Scholar
- CFP: 2015 Future of Places Conference (lead-in to Habitat III) in Stockholm: Deadline of April 15
- Water Down Under: A Report from Australia by Barbara Cosens: Post 7: Conjunctive Management Down Under