An Urban Lesson From the DNC's Host City

While Democrats consider the future of the country, the host city of the DNC offers a great urban lesson from the past: the elegant efficiency of rowhouses.

1 minute read

July 28, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

Glenwood Green Acres, Philadelphia

Tony Fischer / Flickr

"They are blue-collar shelters that came of age when East Coast cities were industrial powerhouses. Workers made decent wages — enough to enable them to escape from tenements, but not enough to move into anything fancy. Rowhouses typically have flat brick facades, occasional details like cornices or porches, and an utterly functional design. They are the Model T of urban shelter. Unlike a 100-year old car, though, those 100-year old houses still run just fine."

"As California cities agonize over how to house everyone, they are missing out on a typology with countless reasons to recommend it. Fundamentally, no typology so exquisitely balances the urban virtue of efficiency with the American virtue of individualism."

"For all the fleeting political proclamations that are likely to come out of Philadelphia this week, we also know that the city is capable of spawning universal, enduring institutions. We could do worse than to add a certain modest, functional, and efficient housing type to that list."

Thursday, July 28, 2016 in California Planning & Development Report

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