So many people have asked me why I have such a passion for homes built before 1947. Why 1947? What significance does that year have? In the architecture and urban planning realm, this year is pivotal. World War II ended in 1945 and veterans returning to the US were finding themselves in need of affordable housing. Because of this, President Truman approved a program called the Veterans’ Emergency Housing Act on On May 22, 1946.
Essentially, the Veterans’ Emergency Housing Program (VEHP) was to create lots of houses (one million were planned to be started in the first year) to be built very quickly and consequently sold for less money due to the volume. This essentially created a factory of mass-produced homes that ended up looking mostly the same, lacking the quality construction and detail that homes built before this time had such as Victorian, Tudor and Craftsman. This also made construction materials more affordable and created jobs. Building materials were decontrolled and channeled into these low- to mid-price houses.
The land that was used for these new houses was generally on the outskirts of established towns and city cores- the land was cheaper the further from the city center it was. This created a reliance on the automobile which was just getting popular and becoming considerably more affordable during this time. No longer did people need buses or public transportation- they now had cars and along with it- complete freedom. These developments are called the suburbs.
Now, any architect or urban planner will tell you that the suburbs are not the place where innovation happens or where communities thrive. Density and high walk scores are better for successful cities and communities. Suburbs create and nurture sprawl and sprawl is a waste of resources. I could go on and on about this, but I’ll spare you the theorizing. If you are interested in the exact source of my specialization/interest and some really good info about suburbs and how they came about, I highly recommend the film “The End of Suburbia”- it’s available at your local library for free.