A brief history of the home
By Witold Rybczynski
Four out of five new housing units built in the United States are single-family houses. This statistic has less to do with the nature of the home-building industry, or the suburban location of new housing, than with buyers' preferences, that is, What People Want.
Many things—government policies, tax structures, financing methods, home-ownership patterns, and availability of land—account for how people choose to live, but the most important factor is culture. To understand why we live in houses, it is necessary to go back several hundred years to Europe. Rural people have always lived in houses, but the typical medieval town dwelling, which combined living space and workplace, was occupied by a mixture of extended families, servants, and employees. This changed in 17th-century Holland. The Netherland
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