Message - Re: the American Front Porch - midwest

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Posted by  JWmHarmon on September 18, 2002 at 08:41:00:

In Reply to:  Re: the American Front Porch posted by Paul Malo on September 17, 2002 at 11:27:07:

In Ohio USA the front porch experience is similar to that described by Mr. Malo. Front porches began to disappear from new houses in the 1940's and 1950's. Following WWII we can observe Levittown with its small suburban cookie cutter houses with no significant front porch. Anyone been to Daly City, California, USA? "Little boxes on a hillside... and they're all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same." - from some song from the 1950's or 60's.

We can also note the beginning of the use of air-conditioners in homes in the 1950's. With air-conditioning there was no need to escape the oppressive summer heat buildup in the traditional home. Historically this was the time when automobile ownership changed from a product owned by the upper and upper-middle classes to that of the majority of the upper-, middle, and even the lower-middle class. With car ownership and air-conditioning in houses, people were free to move farther from the central city area. There was a parallel decline in mass transit.

I can recall city buses in Columbus, Ohio, USA, that were powered by electric motors. Overhead wires carried the power to run the electric motors. Most people lived within a few blocks of the nearest bus stop. Very few people drove cars downtown to where my great grandparents worked. There were no parking lots- only diagonal or parallel parking on the sides of the streets. Most people kept their cars in the garage, especially in the winter. Heaters in cars were and extra cost option.

Downtown Columbus was small enough that every major building was within walking distance from the State Capitol Building. The tallest buildings were built in the late 1920's or the 1930's. Most of the downtown buildings were not more than five of six storeys. Many were only three storeys.

I recall as a small child, people walking around the neighborhood, greeting other people who were out on their front porches. With the widespread adoption of television, more people stayed inside. The neighborhood eventually was turned into rental properties with absentee landlords who had moved to the suburbs. No one sat on their front porches anymore. Life changes. Yards used to be full of kids playing outside. Now kids vegetate in front of video games and TV.

I might as well move back to the dairy farm. But all the farmers have moved to the city and suburbs. (Urban sprawl...)And the cows are all raised on factory farms. Life changes.

The Great Buildings site has many examples of houses with porches.

Hey, Paul, let's go out on the porch, sip a lemonade, sit back in the rocker, and reminisce about how good life used to be...!

Oops! Wait a minute! The cell phone is ringing... What's that? You want a mile high building erected on the WTC site? Sorry, Paul, we will have to go sit on the porch some other day. I've got to get back to work.

Try to catch me on IM or ICQ or call my cell when you have a spare minute. Fax me a copy of the latest plan. I check my email daily. Post a message on the forum...


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