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Old 11-10-2014, 10:52 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I agree that rowhouses are not the "gold standard" for much of anything, though many on this board will disagree.
Everyone has different tastes, though I do like them in or near center cities. There are well done row houses, and not so well done row houses. Likewise, detached homes vary, there's a big difference between a shotgun house and a fancy Victorian-era mansion. The biggest downside of rowhomes IMO is less wall space for windows, so liable to be darker. Bay windows help, and are common in San Francisco. A row home can't be too deep or the middle rooms lack windows. I've seen a bunch of apartments in Brooklyn row homes where there's a middle windowless room that can only be used as a spare room.

Quote:
Interestingly, if you look at the population of the largest cities in 1920, on the cusp so to speak of the automotive era, SF's population is #12. LA was bigger. There are several other midwestern/western cities in the top 20, including Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Seattle (in order of population) and New Orleans in the south. Of those, I believe only NOLA has many rowhouses, maybe not even them.

https://www.census.gov/population/ww...0027/tab15.txt
City proper population rankings are dependent on the city limits and how much annexation occurred. The overall population is captured better by metro or urban area population. It's hard to measure that precisely, especially in the 1920s, this link attempted to do so.

Historical Metropolitan Populations of the United States - Peakbagger.com

San Francisco is larger than Los Angeles by this ranking, and the gap between San Francisco and the cities you mentioned are bigger. The same pattern of a disconnect with size and row houses still holds. Detroit is #5 but has few if any row houses. Washington DC is down at #17 and has a bunch of row house neighborhoods. And as I said earlier, Oakland neighborhoods from the same time period as San Francisco don't have row homes. When row homes started to go out of style, if they ever had them, seems to have depended on region. Philadelphia kept building them till into the 50s, San Francisco had some in the mid 20th century don't know the exact date. Row homes stopped being the common housing stock rather early, only some neighborhoods near downtown are mainly row home neighborhood. Back Bay and the South End to the south and west and Charlestown across the river are mostly row homes. Past those, you'll get a block of row homes here and there but most homes aren't row homes, but small wooden multi-family homes (often triple-deckers). Here's a block of row homes in the South End. A lot of apartment buildings mixed in nearby:



in neighborhoods further out, blocks like these are common:



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Old 11-10-2014, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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There certainly are/were row houses in other western cities - parts of the Seattle Central Area, parts of downtown Portland, Bunker Hill in LA...

The scale of "row houses" in San Francisco has a lot to do with the post-earthquake period of 1906-1915, when the "Outlands" - now including the Richmond and Sunset districts - were quickly subdivided and developed. Wood framing ("balloon" framing) was easy given large supplies of saw timber in the west, and houses went up fast. Even if they're covered in stucco, SF, like most of the west, is mainly a wooden-house city. In SF, buildable land was in short supply, and people still wanted single family homes (as opposed to multifamily or "semi-detached") so what resulted was subdivisions with very narrow and long parcels of land, with no side-setback rules enforced - resulting in what looks like multifamily "row" housing but which is actually discreet SFR structures.

Closer in, like Nob or Russian Hills, multifamily was the norm - apartments for working class people that became gentrified over time.
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Old 11-10-2014, 11:14 AM
 
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BTW row houses are pre-central heating and pre-proper insulation in houses so houses were freezing. There were drafts everywhere. A row house with two houses on either side both with fireplaces going were a a very good thing. Combine that with no cars and you had to walk everywhere even a better thing to be close together and near city
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Old 11-10-2014, 11:20 AM
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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Yea, most of San Francisco rowhomes are really houses that are almost touching.However, many of those are survivors from before the earthquake. Don't know ages, but I think these predated the earthquake.

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7555...5GNRx5Zmsw!2e0
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Old 11-10-2014, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Yea, most of San Francisco rowhomes are really houses that are almost touching.However, many of those are survivors from before the earthquake. Don't know ages, but I think these predated the earthquake.

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7555...5GNRx5Zmsw!2e0
Probably. Most of the Mission District was spared from the fire. And like most of the city, the remaining places saw an immediate and huge increase in population density as refugees from the damaged/destroyed areas sought shelter.
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Old 11-10-2014, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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One issue (which was alluded to in other posts) is the Victorian urban core of most western cities was very small - so small that many residential urban neighborhoods were wiped out with the expansion of the Central Business District (and adjoining warehouse/industrial areas) during the 20th century. While this process happened in many cities, given there were so few of these truly old residential neighborhoods to go around, basically nothing survived in most Western cities built before the first tier of streetcar suburbs.

In the cities they were present in, rowhouses tended to compete directly with apartment buildings. Many of the long, unbroken rows were meant as rentals (even if large/upscale), or alternately had the land owned by a landlord, but sold the buildings to homeowners. Regardless, rowhouse cities tended to not develop a strong apartment market, and vice versa.

Also, note that a rowhouse is generally taken to mean only a building with zero setback on either side. It does not have to be constructed as a row also containing identical buildings. Indeed, until the last few decades of the 19th century industrial-scale building hadn't been really developed, so it would be rare to see blocks built out with only one housing form. This was actually more a precursor of modern tract housing than anything - most old rowhouse neighborhoods have a diversity of styles, and seldom have a string of more than 2-6 units which were built together as one design by one developer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I agree that rowhouses are not the "gold standard" for much of anything, though many on this board will disagree. Interestingly, if you look at the population of the largest cities in 1920, on the cusp so to speak of the automotive era, SF's population is #12. LA was bigger. There are several other midwestern/western cities in the top 20, including Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Seattle (in order of population) and New Orleans in the south. Of those, I believe only NOLA has many rowhouses, maybe not even them.
Cincinnati has rowhouses, although a "detached townhouse" style is most dominant there.

http://m1.i.pbase.com/o6/25/568725/1...sa.cnati40.jpg

Generally speaking though, rowhouse construction was mostly 1920, with the exception of a few mid-Atlantic cities like Philly and Baltimore, where it continued through to the 1950s. It really began to fall out of fashion in most cities by 1890 - earlier in the case of a few metros like Boston.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
The biggest downside of rowhomes IMO is less wall space for windows, so liable to be darker. Bay windows help, and are common in San Francisco. A row home can't be too deep or the middle rooms lack windows. I've seen a bunch of apartments in Brooklyn row homes where there's a middle windowless room that can only be used as a spare room.
The standard way around this is to have an "ell" or "dog leg" off the back of the rowhouse. This allows for the middle room to have one window, and then the extension to have access to natural light on two sides. Although in the modern era the rear extensions have tended to become kitchens and bathrooms, which means many of the rear windows are shrunk or eliminated entirely.

I've been in rowhouses before which have a stepped L, meaning behind a the narrow extension is an even narrower extension. Which gets you four rooms a floor. And of course, in many cases you have usable attics, which (especially if a mansard roof) which has a good deal of natural light.
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Old 11-10-2014, 01:51 PM
 
Location: South Austin, 78745
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I think a street full of row houses looks like a ghetto.
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Old 11-10-2014, 02:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivory Lee Spurlock View Post
I think a street full of row houses looks like a ghetto.

Depends on just what block you're on.
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Old 11-10-2014, 02:36 PM
 
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The rowhouse is still quite popular in most cities and a lot of suburbs - we just call them townhouses now.

Rowhomes aren't pre-automobile per se but rather pre-streetcar. In most smaller, industrial cities (Cincy, Columbus, etc) you see rowhomes all but disappear and give way to twins and bungalows as soon as trolleys became viable. Philly and Baltimore and to a lesser extent Pittsburgh are really the only places where they hung on as a housing style throughout the 20th century.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
The biggest downside of rowhomes IMO is less wall space for windows, so liable to be darker. Bay windows help, and are common in San Francisco. A row home can't be too deep or the middle rooms lack windows. I've seen a bunch of apartments in Brooklyn row homes where there's a middle windowless room that can only be used as a spare room.
There are very few styles of rowhome where a lack of windows is an issue. I think what you're talking about in B'klyn is just because someone moved a wall so they could break up a house into apartments.

They airlite style from the 50s/60s that is common in Philly and Baltimore are only two rooms deep and a lot of the working class rows from the late 1800s are the same but most older rows that are more than 1200 s/f (3 bedrooms) are "L" shaped . . . meaning that they might share an entire wall with the neighbors to the right but with the neighbors on the left only the front rooms share a wall. Two neighboring houses might be 16 ft. wide at the front but in the back they're only 14 ft. wide and there's a 4 ft. wide breezeway between them.

For example - you can see the 3-bedroom houses with the breezeway in the back and the 2 bedroom houses behind them with no breezeway.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ph...0d81a4c425cf70
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Old 11-10-2014, 02:48 PM
 
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SF is full of rowhouses - people probably just call them "townhomes". I'm thinking specifically of the Sunset District but I was around the Marina just yesterday where they're also ubiquitous.
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