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Old 02-02-2015, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I think my biggest grumble is people tend to act like the period between 1920 (the end of the streetcar suburb era) and 1950 didn't exist in terms of urban planning.

The neighborhoods built out in this era, as I've noted before, are fundamentally suburban. They have houses set back far on the property. They usually have driveways, and often garages (although in the 20s and 30s they were rarely attached). There was nothing within walking distance. If they weren't built in areas already plotted out, the roads are often curvy to "enhance the driving experience." Functionally speaking, they have all the characteristics of suburbia. The housing styles were often a little bit different (particularly in the 1920s, when there were still some late-period foursquares and all ornament hadn't been expunged from houses) but otherwise they were little different from what we understand as suburbia.

Of course, as noted above, these suburbs were quite often within city limits, which would lead some people to not call them suburbs. But IMHO a form or function-based definition of suburbia is the only thing that makes sense, since local incorporation patterns vary so dramatically from place to place.
First of all, there was little housing built between 1930 and 1945, due to first the depression, and then WW II. So you're talking about houses built from 1920-1930, and then again from 1945-1950. Not all these houses were set way back on the property, as is common in the northeastern US. What is inherently wrong with a house with a driveway and a garage, especially (God forbid) an attached garage? In some parts of the country, having a garage is quite helpful at certain times of year; in the northern states, say, north of I-40, in the winter; and in hot areas, in the summer. Garages also provide an extra area for storage of bikes, power tools, paints, gardening equipment, a freezer, etc. Please give some documentation of this curving streets to "enhance the driving experience". There is a rule of thumb in landscaping that curving lines are more pleasing to the eye than straight lines and right angles. CIR536/MG086: Basic Principles of Landscape Design Saying "nothing within walking distance" is certainly a gross exaggeration. In the early period you are referring to, many people did not have cars, and even by 1950, some didn't and few households had more than one. I recall many little "corner grocery stores", beauty shops, and the like in walking distance as a kid in a (gasp!) suburb.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:09 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
First of all, there was little housing built between 1930 and 1945, due to first the depression, and then WW II. So you're talking about houses built from 1920-1930, and then again from 1945-1950. Not all these houses were set way back on the property, as is common in the northeastern US.
Older neighborhoods in the Northeast tend to have less setback not more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
What is inherently wrong with a house with a driveway and a garage, especially (God forbid) an attached garage? In some parts of the country, having a garage is quite helpful at certain times of year; in the northern states, say, north of I-40, in the winter; and in hot areas, in the summer.
Whether a garage is useful to have or not has little to do with they're suburban or not. [I'm not arguing whether they are or not] but whether garages or inherently wrong or not is a bit of a tangent. Most don't them in my neighborhood, anyway.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Older neighborhoods in the Northeast tend to have less setback not more.



Whether a garage is useful to have or not has little to do with they're suburban or not. [I'm not arguing whether they are or not] but whether garages or inherently wrong or not is a bit of a tangent. Most don't them in my neighborhood, anyway.
You're right about setbacks. I was just responding to the previous poster who stated homes built between 1920-1950 have big setbacks. I don't think that's true most places. It is true that post-war suburban homes in the Pittsburgh area, where the previous poster lives, often have big setbacks.

Re: garages, the previous poster stated it like it was a bad thing for a house to have a garage, especially an attached garage, and did say these gave a house suburban "form".
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:24 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
You're right about setbacks. I was just responding to the previous poster who stated homes built between 1920-1950 have big setbacks. I don't think that's true most places. It is true that post-war suburban homes in the Pittsburgh area, where the previous poster lives, often have big setbacks.
the ones in the 1920s neighborhoods I've seen tend to have larger setbacks than ones in older neighborhoods.

Quote:
Re: garages, the previous poster stated it like it was a bad thing for a house to have a garage, especially an attached garage, and did say these gave a house suburban "form".
Well he didn't state that it was a bad thing, I don't think that was the point he was trying to make. Rather, with the garages, it give those developments another commonality in style with suburban development later on than with older development. (which I mostly agree with) Pre-1920 often does have driveways added in though.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:35 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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It's hard to have a discussion on this topic, because you need to look up a neighborhood's age. And it's hard to generalize. This Boston area street zillow claims is from 1930:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Wa...45f12250c66e25

There's a small shopping area within walking distance:

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3805...4WBDQKZpuw!2e0

and another somewhat larger one a bit further in the opposite direction. Both of those commercial center were from earlier than 1920, however. There's some in walking distance but compared to older neighborhoods in the same region, things aren't as close together and a car more useful for trips.

Edit: you can see in an older part of town some houses have very small setbacks. Others don't, it's rather random looking

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3691...so2vUCxC_Q!2e0
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 7,368,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I think my biggest grumble is people tend to act like the period between 1920 (the end of the streetcar suburb era) and 1950 didn't exist in terms of urban planning.

The neighborhoods built out in this era, as I've noted before, are fundamentally suburban. They have houses set back far on the property. They usually have driveways, and often garages (although in the 20s and 30s they were rarely attached). There was nothing within walking distance. If they weren't built in areas already plotted out, the roads are often curvy to "enhance the driving experience." Functionally speaking, they have all the characteristics of suburbia. The housing styles were often a little bit different (particularly in the 1920s, when there were still some late-period foursquares and all ornament hadn't been expunged from houses) but otherwise they were little different from what we understand as suburbia.

Of course, as noted above, these suburbs were quite often within city limits, which would lead some people to not call them suburbs. But IMHO a form or function-based definition of suburbia is the only thing that makes sense, since local incorporation patterns vary so dramatically from place to place.
I think that eschaton makes some valid points about "suburbs" that were built within the city limits. I live in a neighborhood that was platted and first lots sold around WW I. All of the houses on my street were originally single family homes, although 2 have been converted to duplexes. There are three main styles: two story, story and half bungalows, and story and a half cottages. These were all built between WW I and about 1930. There are also about 5 "in fill" homes that were built between 1945 and 1960. These are most single story houses that sort of look like cape codes except that they did not have rooms upstairs originally.

My street has a very suburban feel (which is why I purchased where I did). The lots are generally 50-70 feet wide, all lots have driveways and garages. They are, indeed, set back further than is common with many city homes. All of them have some kind of front porch, too. The lot lengths are staggered because originally, there was supposed to be a street running between my street and the next on on the east. The Great Depression halted construction, the development was abandoned, and eventually the city acquired the lots which it sold off to contiguous home owners. You can see the remnants of the old curbs at two places in the neighborhood.

The first main cross street north is older, probably built between 1900 and WW I. The lots on the cross street are smaller, both in width and length. Many do not have driveways. Many are duplexes, one flat above the other.

Building of new housing developments within the city limits continued in Jamestown into the 1960s and even into the 1970s. Further south on my street, the houses tend to have even wider lots and larger set backs and tend to ranches, cape cods, and split levels. In the southeastern part of the city, there a large development of ranches and raised ranches, too.

There are some even newer neighborhoods not far from my street built in the 1980s and 1990s that used up most of the remaining undeveloped land in the neighborhood. These much newer homes are colonials and contemporaries and much more upscale than my immediate area.
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Old 02-03-2015, 03:43 AM
 
12,331 posts, read 15,273,157 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilson513 View Post
I don't think there were many commuters in 1820. People lived where they worked. Sometimes that was boarding houses, sometimes labor camps, sometimes urban ghettos. The suburban retreat for the masses is a 20th century invention.
Except the 'invention' happened decades after the fact. Commuter trains reached the Chicago suburbs of Hyde Park and Oak Park by 1865. Probably even earlier in Boston. Though it was less common when most lived on farms, commuting has been around for several lifetimes.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,502 posts, read 12,017,554 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
First of all, there was little housing built between 1930 and 1945, due to first the depression, and then WW II. So you're talking about houses built from 1920-1930, and then again from 1945-1950.
This is the established wisdom, but I'm not sure it's true, at least not in all metros.



This shows a downturn in the 1930s compared to the 1920s/1940s, but still more housing stock in absolute numbers than in the 1910s or before 1900.



This chart shows the houses on the market. More houses are on the market from the 1930s than 1940s.

Here's a more detailed link from Trulia. New York, Philly and Detroit all have a considerable portion of their housing stock (8%, 7%, and 7% respectively) built during the 1930s.

Of course, all these numbers might be altered because pre-1920 houses were much more likely to be "urban renewed" into nonexistence. Certainly in many metros there were originally far more very old houses than there are today, as numbers can only go down over time. The fact remains though that construction of houses only slowed down during the Depression - it didn't cease entirely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
Not all these houses were set way back on the property, as is common in the northeastern US. What is inherently wrong with a house with a driveway and a garage, especially (God forbid) an attached garage? In some parts of the country, having a garage is quite helpful at certain times of year; in the northern states, say, north of I-40, in the winter; and in hot areas, in the summer. Garages also provide an extra area for storage of bikes, power tools, paints, gardening equipment, a freezer, etc.
As Nei noted, I wasn't saying there was anything inherently wrong with such neighborhoods. I was just saying that everything we consider to make up a "suburban style" neighborhood today had its origins in the 1920s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
Please give some documentation of this curving streets to "enhance the driving experience". There is a rule of thumb in landscaping that curving lines are more pleasing to the eye than straight lines and right angles. CIR536/MG086: Basic Principles of Landscape Design
Unfortunately, my source is this book, which has a chapter on the history of neighborhood design. I can't readily link to it, since it's a dead tree version. When I get home I'll reread the chapter though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
Saying "nothing within walking distance" is certainly a gross exaggeration. In the early period you are referring to, many people did not have cars, and even by 1950, some didn't and few households had more than one. I recall many little "corner grocery stores", beauty shops, and the like in walking distance as a kid in a (gasp!) suburb.
We've been through this before, Katiana. Your hometown was a mill town, not a suburb. It may have acquired some suburban commuters in later history, as the railroads (and later automobiles) allowed for a commute into Pittsburgh, but it was developed well before mass automobile use, or even the electric streetcar. Even though it was connected to the rail system which led into Pittsburgh, it was not a even a planned railroad suburb, like Sewickley. It was just a smaller urban area on the outskirts of a larger one.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Pre-1920 often does have driveways added in though.
Yeah. Historic New England houses, particularly in more rural areas, tend to blend in much better with newer suburban-style development, because they had relatively large setbacks and generally had enough space on either side to allow for driveways to be retrofitted. The same is largely true in the South, although the historic housing stock is much less in most areas. But the Mid-Atlantic styles tended to be too dense to retrofit garages into. Even after the movement away from rowhouses, many of the streetcar neighborhoods simply had houses too closely spaced. I live in a pretty grand detached house now which was built in 1905, but there's only four feet on either side between me and my neighbors. Some of the smaller bungalows in my neighborhood (which have the same width property, but are narrower houses) built more around 1915 did have enough space to put in a driveway however.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:47 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,993 posts, read 42,210,715 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Yeah. Historic New England houses, particularly in more rural areas, tend to blend in much better with newer suburban-style development, because they had relatively large setbacks and generally had enough space on either side to allow for driveways to be retrofitted.
Older New England neighborhoods outside of small towns usually don't have small setbacks unless you mean zero lot setbacks.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Water...57.93,,0,-5.01

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Water...04.16,,0,-6.42

note there still are driveways. The difference is that New England tended to build triple-deckers or two-family homes with enough space to squeeze in a driveway. Other parts of the country often used alleys instead.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Chico...63.99,,0,-5.66

Quote:
The same is largely true in the South, although the historic housing stock is much less in most areas. But the Mid-Atlantic styles tended to be too dense to retrofit garages into. Even after the movement away from rowhouses, many of the streetcar neighborhoods simply had houses too closely spaced. I live in a pretty grand detached house now which was built in 1905, but there's only four feet on either side between me and my neighbors. Some of the smaller bungalows in my neighborhood (which have the same width property, but are narrower houses) built more around 1915 did have enough space to put in a driveway however.
I think it might just be the lot design; because Pittsburgh densities are lower than New England ones. Mid-Atlantic ones east of the Appalachians are higher. Many Queens neighborhoods which have high residential densities, at least as high or higher than the densest Pittsburgh neighborhoods have driveways:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Queen...2,215.8,,0,3.7
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