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Old 08-05-2014, 09:14 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,171 posts, read 29,681,041 times
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There are turn of the (20th) century tract homes down the street from my home. Oakland has plenty!

Oakland is the land of tract homes, and even published a rehab guide in the 70s on how to deal with the historic homes many neighborhoods originated as tract homes.

Anyway this guide is totally interesting for residential architecture buffs:
http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/gr.../oak039424.pdf
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Old 08-05-2014, 09:29 PM
 
1,709 posts, read 1,675,691 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
We have given you some examples of several cities that have tract housing from the 1920s or earlier. Look at all the row houses in any older city.
I know those are examples of "cookie-cutter" housing where the houses look all the same, but I wasn't aware they were by the same developer. Interesting. But I have another question-those prewar tract housing development fit into the same continuous street grids as each other, meaning that different tracts usually connect seamlessly into a continuous unit. By contrast, postwar tract housing (particularly modern tract housing) seems to leave roads to the developer, leading to isolated road systems and cul-de-sacs in place of where streets could easily connect end to end. There are usually only one or two entrances/exits from the development. It seems like the development is more isolated. Why is it this way? Is it just because it's cheaper to let developers do the roads and the land development? If so, why did this form of development not take place until after WWII?
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Old 08-05-2014, 09:59 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,838,412 times
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Quote:
If so, why did this form of development not take place until after WWII?
It did. Suburban developments with their own road system go back at least to Llewellen Park, circa 1857. The Levittowns and their successors and imitators didn't spring up ex nihilo from the mind of Abraham Levitt; they built on ideas which came before and took advantage of both modern (at the time) building techiques and modern prosperity.
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:33 PM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,872 posts, read 13,557,559 times
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My late father was born in 1922. He grew up in a house that was one of an entire community built and rented out to workers by the coal company his father worked for. A lot of other businesses did the same — including some near Pittsburgh that were built by George Westinghouse and Andrew Carnegie, who was rich enough to put recreational facilities and libraries in his communities.

The miners who lived in my Dad's rural area in Western Pennsylvania were also dependent on a general store that extended them credit until payday. Guess who owned the store, too? This practice was immortalized in the famous Tennessee Ernie Ford song "Sixteen Tons," with the famous line "I owe my soul to the company store."
Sixteen Tons - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It doesn't seem to me to be much of a leap from building a community of rental homes to house your workers to building a community of homes to sell to workers with more lucrative jobs.
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:05 PM
 
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Financing changed. Fannie Mae was formed in 1938, although building during the end of the great depression was limited and didn't boom until after WW2 ended. By then, there was a mortgage market in place that made it easier for people to get a standard home loan. Likewise, VA loans became available in 1944 and this further expanded the ability of families to buy a home.

With these finance options available, builders could produce large numbers of spec homes in a single location with a reasonable expectation of someone being able to buy them. That wasn't the case when builders had to 'bet' on whether a significant number buyers in a locality had the ability to afford a home, AND the local bank had the ability to lend to them. Otherwise the builder had to take on not just the building, but the finance as well - and the possibility of default wasn't borne by a third party with a large risk pool

That's not to say tract development didn't happen prior, it was just much more limited due to loan access. I'd also assume that the ability of builders to finance large tract developments increased at the same time, once there was less variability in personal lending.


Second, "tract" implies a large parcel of undeveloped land. This required cars and freeways to access, and really took off after the Interstate Highway act passed in 1956. Suburban builders were among the greatest beneficiaries of this system. That subsequently kicked off 50 years of outward expansion before it's limited scalability became blatantly obvious.

Last edited by mkarch; 08-05-2014 at 11:17 PM..
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:09 AM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,860,722 times
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Cul de sacs exsisted long before WWII. They become more popular because with the rise of the auto, grids become less important. Cul de sacd cut down on through traffic and enable more houses to be built on that piece of land. They also handle natural barriers like streams better. Grids on the other hand enable easy walking for great distances. Walking great distances is something you do when limited to public transit. Grids are also useful for transport through an area.

Post WWll. People wanted a nice quite place to raise an family with an large lawn. Cul de sacs provided it.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:44 AM
 
3,946 posts, read 4,142,864 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OuttaTheLouBurbs View Post
As far as I know my history, land used to be developed individually, and homes were built by the owner. Nowadays, land is commonly bought by a developer, constructed on as a larger unit, and then subdivided and sold among new owners. The latter method, called "tract housing," was not the primary method of home construction in the US until recently when the concept of the suburban subdivision appeared. So my question is-what is it that led to the birth of tract housing? Why is tract housing and subdivided development the primary method of growth in today's methods of urban planning, rather than the sale of individual plots? I don't understand what caused the change and why homebuilding is the way it is today, could someone please fill me in?
Business privatization.

Where I live, it's an entire track home community from Irvine to South County. The only parts that aren't track homes are San Clemente, parts of Dana Point and San Juan.

Pretty much, since the Irvine Company started their planned community, a lot of these private companies (I'm assuming bought out by oil companies) set out to change a lot of the local policies that allowed for more of a controlled corporate living type of environment, and offshore drilling off the California coast.

Small business owners where I live cannot survive, because in part, the Irvine Company owns part of the business, and the ma n' pa shops have to meet a certain quota.

Kinda bizarre. But, yeah, my theory is business privatization, which has lead to these multi-giant conglomerates monopolizing free enterprise.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Someplace Wonderful
5,178 posts, read 3,900,081 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chirack View Post
Even in neighborhoods built before WWII you can find houses that are identical or share an lot of elements in the same neighborhood built at the same time.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:51 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,013 posts, read 102,621,396 times
Reputation: 33082
Quote:
Originally Posted by kat949 View Post
Business privatization.

Where I live, it's an entire track home community from Irvine to South County. The only parts that aren't track homes are San Clemente, parts of Dana Point and San Juan.

Pretty much, since the Irvine Company started their planned community, a lot of these private companies (I'm assuming bought out by oil companies) set out to change a lot of the local policies that allowed for more of a controlled corporate living type of environment, and offshore drilling off the California coast.

Small business owners where I live cannot survive, because in part, the Irvine Company owns part of the business, and the ma n' pa shops have to meet a certain quota.

Kinda bizarre. But, yeah, my theory is business privatization, which has lead to these multi-giant conglomerates monopolizing free enterprise.
See below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jukesgrrl View Post
My late father was born in 1922. He grew up in a house that was one of an entire community built and rented out to workers by the coal company his father worked for. A lot of other businesses did the same including some near Pittsburgh that were built by George Westinghouse and Andrew Carnegie, who was rich enough to put recreational facilities and libraries in his communities.

The miners who lived in my Dad's rural area in Western Pennsylvania were also dependent on a general store that extended them credit until payday. Guess who owned the store, too? This practice was immortalized in the famous Tennessee Ernie Ford song "Sixteen Tons," with the famous line "I owe my soul to the company store."
Sixteen Tons - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It doesn't seem to me to be much of a leap from building a community of rental homes to house your workers to building a community of homes to sell to workers with more lucrative jobs.
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:59 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
29,815 posts, read 54,486,657 times
Reputation: 31118
Even in younger cities like Seattle and San Francisco, there are streets with many very similar almost tract-like Victorians built around 1900-1920. They are all on very rectangular 4,000 sf lots, with detached garages too small for the modern cars.
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