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Old 01-22-2015, 09:17 PM
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by misterfart View Post
Philadelphia feels older than Boston to me.
Philadelphia certainly has far more really buildings. Neighborhoods like Old Town and Society Hill have a lot of 18th century housing, whereas relatively little from Boston built prior to 1800 survives. But Boston also was basically completely built out by the 1920s, when the last bits and bobs in West Roxbury were built out. In contrast, at that point much of Northeast Philadelphia was still farmland.

I also think it's true that it's much harder to judge the age of old frame buildings than brick. Brick weathers over time, but frame buildings either need constant repair of wood cladding, or their cladding replaced with siding. As some vernacular housing styles were popular off and on for over a century, it can be hard to judge the age of a frame house without any remaining notable ornament, which could theoretically date from any time from the 1700s to the early 20th century.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:23 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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At least here, there are usually subtle style clues to tell if a house is very old. Roof, window size. Here's a house from 1795.


Urban homes might be rather different.
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Old 01-22-2015, 10:54 PM
Location: Oakland
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
San Francisco County is 48.6% pre-1940, though you appear to be skipping central cities. San Francisco has grown by 26.9% since 1940, so the extra must be from accommodating smaller household sizes or tearing down old housing for new.
Very little old housing gets torn down in SF. Most of the population growth is due to the construction of new housing in undeveloped areas (in 1940, large parts of SF were not yet built upon), the construction of infill on empty lots, parking lots, or replacing warehouses/factories/one story commercial buildings, etc. Parts of the city have gotten denser too, partly due to high housing prices/a lack of supply forcing extra people to crowd into apartments and homes (such as poor immigrants, students, etc), and partly due to the aforementioned infill that happened over the decades. Though at the same time rising prices/gentrification have made other neighborhoods less dense, due to increasing populations of well educated/high income people who have fewer kid. And for the record, SF's population hasn't grown nonstop since 1940. It actually lost 100,000 people between 1950 and 1980.
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