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Old 05-16-2008, 01:44 AM
 
38 posts, read 126,260 times
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I think one of the trends ruining the picturesque American landscape is the trend of cookie cutter homes. Row upon row, houses looking the same with a tiny yard, a virtual clone of the neighbor's house. If there weren't street numbers, one might end up in the neighbor's house by accident.

Then I see other, mostly older areas where there are plenty of homes, but at least they have individual character. The floor plans, exterior colors, size and shapes of the yards, are all different. It's so nice, they have personality.

Cookie cutter homes remind me of the stale square apartment buildings in Eastern Europe built during the Communist era. They stick out like sore lifeless constructs amongst the other architectural cultural riches of Europe.

In America, we are creating that sort of thing now, with these houses that take on the Communist tradition in the architectural sense - "everyone is the same." It makes me sad that real estate developers are still doing this. Our landscape would be so much prettier with individuality in construction.

How did the trend of cookie cutter homes start and why did it accelerate in recent years? Is there anything that we can do to reverse this trend?
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:52 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland/ Piedmont, CA
32,345 posts, read 55,140,686 times
Reputation: 15415
Levittown: Documents of an Ideal American Suburb
I think it started with Levittown.



http://pictopia.com/perl/get_image?provider_id=16&size=550x550_mb&ptp_photo _id=189822 (broken link)
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:15 AM
 
Location: St Simons Island, GA
23,058 posts, read 35,012,419 times
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Yes, I do think Levittown was the precursor of that trend; post-WWII, there was an explosion of returning GI's and their families (the "Baby Boom") that needed inexpensive housing fast.
These kind of subdivisions were a response to them, and every city has them.
The 'cookie cutter' subdivisions we see today are the offspring of the 'Levittowns' of the 50's.
The main reasons for them?
The need for relatively inexpensive housing in a rapidly growing area.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:25 AM
 
5,721 posts, read 9,086,134 times
Reputation: 2460
Burn, baby burn.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:45 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,284,915 times
Reputation: 3827
There's nothing wrong with cookie-cutter developments. Not everyone is wealthy enough to afford a custom-built architect-designed house. The real problem with modern homes is lower quality construction. These new homes may look nice today, but even the expensive ones may not age very well.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:56 AM
 
Location: The Rock!
2,370 posts, read 6,995,262 times
Reputation: 804
I agree with Sukwoo. One of things people need to keep in mind when they look at these more historic areas with a wealth of variety in architecture is that:

1) Most of these homes were built by the wealthy. Most of the lesser homes from that time are long gone and would probably have fit the description of cookie-cutter only much much much smaller than our modern equivialent.

2) Many of these neighborhoods have homes that were built during radically different eras reflecting changing styles and tastes. Homes burn, homes are modified, homes are destroyed by various means.

Come back to your cookie cutter suburb in 100 years and see if it still looks cookie cutter! As taste and style changes so will the restrictive covenants that limit what you can and can't do in these neighborhoods now.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:56 AM
 
11,979 posts, read 17,491,614 times
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Yes Levittown, built by the venerable Charles Levitt, was probably the first. However, he was the man who made housing affordable and accesible to the non-elites. He developed very innovative building systems and used bonuses to great success. Read David Halberstam's "The 50s" for a good profile of Levitt.

Levittown (and other Levitt communities) featured houses that could be customized by the owners. There were usually 3 different types available.

One mistake developers made and continue to make is laying the houses out in a linear pattern. A famous architect around here in DC (Charles Goodman) used three types in his developments like others. However, he 1) Angled them away from neighbors so as to maximize privacy and 2) Kept as much forest and foliage as possible. Today, these areas are acquiring historical status.
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
32,371 posts, read 59,807,408 times
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Cookie cutter houses are nothing new; witness the blocks and blocks of row/semi-attached homes in Philadelphia -- or anywhere else in eastern Pennsylvania, for that matter -- or Baltimore.

But after 100 years, they've been modified so that they don't look cookie cutter anymore.

It remains to be seen if modern cookie cutter homes will even survive for 100 years, given modern building methods.
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 16,651,567 times
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If people want to live in a cookie cutter, that's okay. But I agree, they're ugly and boring. But if this reverse-migration to the city continues a little longer, maybe they'll disappear on their own.
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,284,915 times
Reputation: 3827
Quote:
Originally Posted by STLCardsBlues1989 View Post
If people want to live in a cookie cutter, that's okay. But I agree, they're ugly and boring. But if this reverse-migration to the city continues a little longer, maybe they'll disappear on their own.
I don't know, there's plenty of cookie cutter houses in the city. They're often called high-rise condos, row houses, triple-deckers, bungalows, brownstones, etc.
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