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Housing the North American City

Housing the North American City

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 608
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  • Book Info
    Housing the North American City
    Book Description:

    Doucet and Weaver begin this empirical, analytical, and narrative study with an analysis of the evolution of land development as an enterprise and continue with an examination of house design and construction practices, the development of the apartment building, and an account of class and age as they relate to housing tenure. They also relate developments in Hamilton to the current state of urban historiography, using their case study to resolve discrepancies and contradictions in the literature.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6282-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Tables
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. INTRODUCTION: City Building and Shelter History
    (pp. 3-19)

    Some years ago, Roy Lubove reminded students of the city that urbanization was an abstraction. Cities, he wrote in 1967, “are created by concrete decisions over time.”² He was reacting against the more rarified methods and theories of social scientists. There may be a tinge of irony in introducing an often quantitative study with Lubove’s affirmation, but the connections between his brief scheme for studying the city and our data outweigh any apparent conflict. Statistics have been employed here to direct attention to decisions over time; they drive no model and they are not meant to be the objects of...

  7. 1 Residential Land Development before 1880: The Era of Individualism
    (pp. 20-76)

    Fundamentally, cities are composed of four basic elements — the natural environment, people and their culture, buildings, and infrastructure. These four are melded together in many different ways during the evolution of individual urban places. One such nexus of interaction is the urban land-development process. Most simply, urban land development can be defined as a series of stages whereby agricultural, wild, or otherwise vacant land is converted to some sort of urban land use (figure 1.1). There are many possible paths through this seemingly simple process. If dwellings are the end product, for example, then residential development has occurred, with neighbourhoods...

  8. 2 The Transition to Modern Development: The Era of Corporate Involvement, 1880–1945
    (pp. 77-126)

    Eras seldom begin or end abruptly, rather the characteristics of adjacent epochs overlap. Such is the case with the property-development periods denned in this book. In the previous chapter we examined, in great detail, residential development during the era of individualism, not only because of the paucity of scholarly reporting on the way in which housing was built in urban North America prior to 1880, but also to establish a basis from which to monitor changes in traditional development practices. Resource limitations and a much larger urban area will not permit the same level of detail for the post-1880 eras....

  9. 3 Modern Residential Development Practices: The Era of State Intervention
    (pp. 127-162)

    By 1945 Canadian housing production had become more regulated, more coordinated, and more integrated. Increasingly, either corporations or real-estate professionals brought building lots onto the market. These lots were sold for a stated amount per foot of frontage rather than by auction, and they were nearly always marketed on easy-payment terms. No longer raw land parcels, newly platted lots came with an impressive array of services already in place. By 1941 the infrastructure system within the City of Hamilton was virtually complete - 99.7 per cent of all dwellings had electric lighting and the same percentage had running water — though...

  10. 4 Launching the Will to Possess: North American Property Ownership as a Cultural Phenomenon, 1820s–1980s
    (pp. 163-200)

    In the previous three chapters, land development had been described and analyzed in relation to a group of city builders, the individuals who guided the land-development processes. The creation of a medium of exchange for a lot with a dwelling for use requires another set of players, for there must be households who wish to occupy the dwellings. To complete the picture of urban residential development, a discussion of consumer demand is mandatory. It is an intractable topic, prone to ideologically inspired insights and controversies, and unamenable to the empiricism of the research on land development. The latter, an aspect...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. 5 Material Culture and the North American House: The Era of the Common Man, 1870s–1980s
    (pp. 201-242)

    The history of housing for the workers in urban North America is at once a chronicle of great continuity, many subtle changes, and several upheavals. This complex pacing along several tracks demands an appreciation of tradition, entrepreneurship, and technology. It also requires a preliminary sense of the scope and idiosyncrasies of a major activity. Residential building has been one of the most important sectors of the North American economy, accounting for between 50 and 65 per cent of total construction in most years during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1987 residential construction accounted for just over half of the...

  13. 6 Crafting Home Finance: Mortgages as Artifacts of Law, Business, and the Interventionist State, 1790s–1980s
    (pp. 243-304)

    The mortgage, like the balloon-frame house and its site on a suburban survey, has had a crucial role in creating the state of contemporary North American housing. It has mobilized resources for house buying and for the building of rental units. It has figured in popular culture, appearing as an instrument for threatening the virtue of heroines in silent films. In the 1946 Frank Capra classicIt’s a Wonderful Life,mortgages held by the kindly little building and loan office run by James Stewart’s decent relatives rescued the folk of Bedford Falls from another fate worse than death: tenancy. By...

  14. 7 The Social Contours of Home Ownership in a Middle-Rank North American City, 1856–1981
    (pp. 305-342)

    A positive relationship between age and home ownership is a conventional finding in housing research in North America, but that basic conclusion is surrounded by complexities. For example, does ownership rise, peak at middle age, and then level off? Does it fall after middle age, or does it continue to increase? A quest for explanations for the age and ownership connection has occupied writers on urban questions and policy. To these concerns, we add the consideration of changes over time. Economists who have studied the demand for home ownership have dealt overwhelmingly with the eternal present, using single cross sections...

  15. 8 The Rented House: Landlords and Tenants, 1830s–1960s
    (pp. 343-387)

    The city has always furnished profuse social contacts, both voluntary and obligatory. The latter include the relations between employee and employer, debtor and creditor, and tenant and landlord. These contacts involve unequal arrangements, although they have not been purely one-way streets favouring the wielders of capital at every turn. Labour historians, for example, have recorded the resistance and the achievements of workers. While much is being discovered about the dynamics of employer-employee relations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, little has been written about the landlord and tenant nexus in urban social history. Yet a great majority of households, perhaps...

  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  17. 9 The North American Apartment Building as a Matter of Business and an Expression of Culture: A Survey and Case Study,1900s–1980s
    (pp. 388-419)

    In the 1870s and 1880s apartments became established as a noteworthy shelter form in Boston, New York, and Chicago. A stylish mode of shelter then associated primarily with Paris, the apartment dwelling provided lavish quarters for the affluent in large sophisticated cities. Well-appointed French flats in New York occasionally contained as many as ten rooms per unit, and the buildings’ ornate exteriors announced riches.¹ A trend toward multi-level accommodation for other than the rich in plush French flats or the poor in tenements caught on later. By the first decade of the twentieth century, apartment living had likely established a...

  18. 10 Housing Quality and Urban Enviroments, 1830s–1980s
    (pp. 420-470)

    A qualified thesis of democratization in shelter has crept, not haphazardly, into the preceding chapters. It is at the crux of the account of the will to possess; it is a conclusion to be drawn from the vigorous and sometimes creative architectural concern with the common house, amply depicted in late-nineteenth-century building journals. That part of the history of the apartment building chronicling how it offered some youths, and seniors, a specialized form of shelter intimates a change that freed a good many people at appropriate stages in the life cycle from residential dependency on parents or adult children, from...

  19. Appendixes
    (pp. 471-478)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 479-566)
  21. Index
    (pp. 567-572)