Tract housing

Tract housing, also known colloquially in the United States and Canada as cookie-cutter housing, is a type of housing development in which multiple similar homes are built on a tract (area) of land that is subdivided into individual small lots. Tract housing developments are found in world suburb developments that were modeled on the "Levittown" concept and sometimes encompass large areas of dozens of square miles.[1][2]

Markham-suburbs aerial-edit2
Aerial view of housing developments near Markham, Ontario, Canada.


Tract housing development makes use of few architectural designs, and labor costs are reduced because workers need to learn the skills and movements of constructing only those designs rather than repeat the learning curve. In addition, as all homes in the development will be built at the same time, the cost of purchasing and transporting building supplies may be reduced due to economies of scale. Components such as roof trusses, plumbing, trees, and stair systems are often prefabricated in factories and installed on-site. This allows builders to offer lower prices, which in turn can make homes affordable to a larger percentage of the population. Early tract homes were often identical, but many tracts since the late 20th century have several designs and other variations in footprint, roof form, and materials, along with options such as garage bays, for a more diverse appearance.


South San Jose (crop)
A tract housing development in San Jose, California, United States

The concept of tract housing is occasionally mocked in North American popular culture as the basis of suburbia; notable examples are the songs "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds, "Suburbia" by the Pet Shop Boys and "Subdivisions" by Rush. It is also often critiqued by city planners and architects, as its construction tends to overlook required elements of successful community building, instead creating a homogeneous residential neighborhood with no local employment, commerce, services, or attractions within close commuting distance. This leads to a heavy reliance on automobile travel, as residents are unable to address any of these needs locally.[3]

Housing colonies

Numbers 341 to 385 Lordship Lane N17
Terraced houses in 20th-century style in London.

In Europe, the majority of subdivided landstrips are built in the type of row housing development areas. The model of tract housing had been used widely in the history of land reclamation in the 17th to 19th century, especially in the Netherlands. Modern tract housing had been used for company towns in the 19th to 20th century, especially in the areas of coal mining that attracted a large number of workers. A tract housing area of this type is colloquially known in German as a "(Zechen-) Kolonie", and in Flemish Dutch and French as a "cité"(nl)/(fr) or "coron"(fr).


  1. ^ "Why do cookie-cutter neighborhoods exist?". HowStuffWorks. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  2. ^ "15 Milestones That Changed Housing". 2002-03-13. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  3. ^ "Why commuting costs can make the 'burbs more expensive than living downtown". Retrieved 10 April 2018 – via The Globe and Mail.

See also

Bill Owens (photographer)

Bill Owens (born September 25, 1938) is an American photographer, photojournalist, brewer and editor living in Hayward, California. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 1976 and two NEA Grants, he is best known for his photographs of suburban domestic scenes taken in the East Bay and published in the book Suburbia in 1973. According to The New York Sun, "Bill Owens is one of the very few photographers to have shot people in the suburbs to any great extent. There is a long, long list of photographers who made their reputations shooting in cities and a shorter but impressive list who made their names with studies of rural communities, but Mr. Owens is uniquely associated with suburbanites living in the tract housing developments that absorbed 60 million Americans in the decades following World War II."

Christmas lights

Christmas lights (also known as fairy lights) are lights used for decoration in celebration of Christmas, often on display throughout the Christmas season including Advent and Christmastide. The custom goes back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, which symbolized Christ being the light of the world; these were brought by Christians into their homes in early modern Germany.Christmas trees displayed publicly and illuminated with electric lights became popular in the early 20th century. By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights along streets and on buildings; Christmas decorations detached from the Christmas tree itself. In the United States, it became popular to outline private homes with such Christmas lights in tract housing beginning in the 1960s. By the late 20th century, the custom had also been adopted in other nations, including outside the Western world, notably in Japan and Hong Kong. Throughout Christendom, Christmas lights continue to retain their symbolism of Jesus as the light of the world.In many countries, Christmas lights, as well as other Christmas decorations, are traditionally erected on or around the first day of Advent. In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas lights are removed are Twelfth Night and Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations. Leaving the decorations up beyond Candlemas is historically considered to be inauspicious.

Devonshire Downs

Devonshire Downs, sometimes informally called The Downs, was a horse racing track and multipurpose event facility in Northridge, California. It was located at the southwest corner of Devonshire Street and Zelzah Avenue, east of Reseda Boulevard. The site is now owned by the California State University, Northridge, which renamed it North Campus.

In 1943, Helen Dillman and Pete Spears purchased 40 acres for $80,000 with plans to construct a harness racing track, but a wartime construction moratorium temporarily put the project on hold. Weekly Sunday afternoon harness races, called matinees, began in 1946. The State of California bought the property for $140,000 in 1948, at which time it also became the home of the 51st District Agricultural Association's annual San Fernando Valley Fair.

During the 1950s, as the San Fernando Valley's population boomed and tract housing rapidly replaced Northridge's citrus groves and small ranches, the venue increasingly served to host a wide variety of mostly non-equestrian expositions, festivals, carnivals, concerts, swap meets, rallies and other events. These alternative uses eventually predominated. A new California State College campus was built on adjacent land and opened in 1958 as San Fernando Valley State College, which soon became the owner of Devonshire Downs.

During the 1960s, poor track maintenance and declining interest in the sport led to the end of horse racing at the facility. The last race horse was removed in 1971. In the same year, the college, which became the California State University at Northridge (CSUN) in 1972, built a football stadium on some of the acreage. Other parts of the property continued to be put to diverse uses. During the first half of the 1980s, Devonshire Downs was the venue for numerous hardcore punk rock shows.

In 2001, the football stadium and practically everything else was razed and most of the land was leased out for development as a private industrial park.

Devonshire Downs is most widely known for hosting the three-day Newport Pop Festival in June 1969, featuring Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker and nearly thirty other top acts.

Four Mile Fork, Virginia

Four Mile Fork is an unincorporated community in Spotsylvania County, Virginia south of the city limits of Fredericksburg. Its name derives from the junction of State Route 208, U.S. Route 1, and U.S. Route 1 Business, which is located approximately four miles south of downtown Fredericksburg.

Four Mile Fork was also known as Thomas' Store.The community began developing as a suburb of Fredericksburg in the mid-20th century, with tract housing spreading out from the city along U.S. Route 1 Business (or Lafayette Boulevard). Commercial development remained predominantly small-scale and scattered until after the completion of Interstate 95 through the area in 1964. The completion of a highway interchange with U.S. Route 1 just south of Four Mile Fork spurred new development, including lodging, restaurants, and service stations. Commercial development diversified from the late 1960s through the 1980s, with the addition of multiple automotive sales businesses, a shopping center, furniture stores, a multi-screen movie theater, and other local businesses.

The completion in 1980 of a regional shopping mall, Spotsylvania Mall (now Spotsylvania Towne Center) on Virginia Route 3 west of Fredericksburg, shifted the focus of commercial development from the Route 1 corridor to the west of the city, resulting in some decline in business activity and the closure or relocation of several prominent businesses. Since the 1990s, however, new development to the south along Routes 1 and 208 and the redevelopment of older commercial properties around Four Mile Fork has renewed business interest in the community. Although most of the subdivision development between Four Mile Fork and the city limits of Fredericksburg had been completed by the 1990s, in-fill residential development continues throughout the area.

Harry F. Legg House

The Harry F. Legg House is a house in the Elliot Park neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The house appears to have been built by a tract housing developer, and its style reflects that of houses for middle to upper-class professional families in the late 18th century. The house retains its Queen Anne architectural integrity, having been altered little since it was originally built. The interior woodwork may have come from "made to order" catalogs that were circulating around that time. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Housing estate

A housing estate (or sometimes housing complex or housing development) is a group of homes and other buildings built together as a single development. The exact form may vary from country to country. Accordingly, a housing estate is usually built by a single contractor, with only a few styles of house or building design, so they tend to be uniform in appearance. A housing development is "often erected on a tract of land by one builder and controlled by one management." In the British Isles, the term is quite broad, and can include anything from high rise government-subsidised housing, right through to more upmarket, developer-led suburban tract housing.

In major Asian cities such as Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore and Seoul, an estate may range from detached houses to high density tower blocks with or without commercial facilities; in Europe and America, these may take the form of town housing, or the older-style rows of terraced houses associated with the industrial revolution, detached or semi-detached houses with small plots of land around them forming gardens, and are frequently without commercial facilities.

Housing estates are the usual form of residential design used in new towns, where estates are designed as an autonomous suburb, centred on a small commercial centre. Such estates are usually designed to minimise through-traffic flows, and to provide recreational space in the form of parks and greens. Popular throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, they are often areas of high-density, low-impact residences of single-family detached homes, and often allow for separate ownership of each housing unit, for example through subdivision.

Little Boxes

"Little Boxes" is a song written and composed by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963, when he released his cover version.

The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia, and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It mocks suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material supposedly used in the construction of the houses.

Lynwood Village

Lynwood Village is a neighbourhood in Bells Corners, west of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The neighbourhood is also known as Bells Corners East. The homes were built in between 1958 and 1966. It is one of the first examples of tract housing in Ottawa. The neighbourhood is bounded to the north Robertson Road, east is presumably Highway 416, south by Hunt Club Road, and the west is Moodie Drive.

Meeker Slough

Meeker Slough is a slough in Richmond, California, formed by a creek of the same name and drains into the Richmond Inner Harbor, part of San Francisco Bay. The area lies between modern tract housing in the Marina Bay neighborhood and the University of California, Berkeley Richmond Field Station's portion of Western Stege Marsh, which has been cleaned of legacy industrial contamination and restored to a productive tidal salt marsh home to the endangered California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris oboletus). The slough is across from Stege Marsh from which Baxter Creek drains across from a small bay they both form known as Campus Bay. The site is currently undergoing wetlands restoration.

Okreek, South Dakota

Okreek is an unincorporated community in Todd County, South Dakota, United States. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 269. The town is wholly within the jurisdiction of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and the populace is almost entirely Sioux-American. Okreek consists primarily of two long blocks of inhabited tract housing, and has about 30 private telephone subscribers within town limits. There is also an elementary school and a Post Office which has been assigned the ZIP Code of 57563.The name Okreek is a corruption of Oak Creek, a stream near the town site.

Ralph Haver

Ralph Haver was an architect working in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, USA, from 1945 until the early 1980s. Haver designed the Mid-Century Modern Haver Homes, affordable tract housing executed in a contemporary modern style.

Ranch-style house

Ranch (also known as; American ranch, California ranch, rambler, or rancher) is a domestic architectural style originating in the United States. The ranch-style house is noted for its long, close-to-the-ground profile, and wide open layout. The house style fused modernist ideas and styles with notions of the American Western period of wide open spaces to create a very informal and casual living style. While the original style of the ranch was very informal and basic in design, starting around the early 1960s, many ranch-style houses constructed in the United States (particularly in the Sun Belt region) were increasingly built with more dramatic features like varying roof lines, cathedral ceilings, sunken living rooms, and extensive landscaping and grounds.

First built in the 1920s, the ranch style was extremely popular with the booming post-war middle class of the 1940s to the 1970s. The style is often associated with tract housing built at this time, particularly in the southwest United States, which experienced a population explosion during this period, with a corresponding demand for housing. The style was soon exported to other nations and became popular worldwide. However, their popularity waned in the late 20th century as neo-eclectic house styles, a return to using historical and traditional decoration, became more popular.

Preservationist movements have begun in some ranch house neighborhoods, as well as renewed interest in the style from a younger generation who did not grow up in ranch-style houses. This renewed interest in the style has been compared to that which other house styles such as the bungalow and Queen Anne experienced in the 20th century, initial dominance of the market, replacement as the desired housing style, decay and lack of interest coupled with many tear downs, then renewed interest and modernization of the surviving houses.

Rincon Mountains

The Rincon Mountains (O'odham: Cew Doʼag) are a significant mountain range east of Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, in the United States. The Rincon Mountains are one of five mountain ranges surrounding the Tucson valley. The other ranges include the most prominent, the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, the Tucson Mountains to the west, and the Tortolita Mountains to the northwest. Redington Pass separates the Rincon Mountains from the Santa Catalina Mountains. The Rincon Mountains are generally less rugged than the Santa Catalina Mountains and Santa Rita Mountains. The Rincon Mountains are also included in the Madrean sky island mountain ranges of southeast Arizona, extreme southwest New Mexico, and northern Sonora Mexico.

Rincón is Spanish for corner, denoting the primary shape of the mountain range. Mica Mountain (8,664 feet), the high-point of the Rincons forms the apex, with Rincon Peak (8,482 feet) forming the southern point, and Tanque Verde Peak (7,049 feet) forming the western point of the corner. The interior of the corner is Rincon Valley (south and west of Mica Mountain), primarily former ranchland currently being converted to tract housing. Colossal Cave county park, a limestone cave and popular destination, is located on the east end of the Rincon Valley, north of the community of Vail.

East of the Rincons are the Little Rincon Mountains. Between these two ranges is Happy Valley, a popular destination for locals for camping, hunting, and off-roading. Farther east is the San Pedro River of the San Pedro Valley, a holocene paleontology region.

South of the Rincon Mountains, beyond Rincon Valley is the Cienega Creek and Interstate 10.

Most of the Rincon Mountains are within Saguaro National Park, or in the Rincon Mountain Wilderness, 32°14′50″N 110°28′02″W, of the Coronado National Forest.

Robert Rummer

Robert Rummer (born 1927) was a post-war U.S. American real estate developer best known for developing distinctive residential subdivisions of Mid-Century modern style tract housing in Oregon, United States.

Rolando Park, San Diego

Rolando Park is a neighborhood on the eastern edge of San Diego, California. It is bordered by College Avenue to the west, California State Route 94 to the south, the city of La Mesa to the east and University Avenue to the north. Rolando Park borders the San Diego neighborhoods of Rolando, Redwood Village, and Oak Park.

Rolando Park is a largely residential neighborhood, and was principally developed during the 1950s with tract housing. Rolando Park is a hilly neighborhood, a characteristic it shares with other neighborhoods in the area. The hills separate the residential areas from commercial areas along University Avenue.

South Shore, Alameda, California

South Shore is a neighborhood in Alameda in Alameda County, California. It lies at an elevation of 13 feet (4 m). It is located mostly on landfill extending from the (old sea wall) original south shore of the island, now a chain of artificial lagoons. The land was created by the Utah Construction Company during the 1950s and 1960s, and the neighborhood was built in a more suburban style than the rest of the island, with a mix of Tract housing and large apartment complexes, and strict Single-use zoning. It is the location of the South Shore Center shopping complex, Alameda's only large shopping mall. The two mile long Crown Memorial State Beach lies along the neighborhood's southern shore.

Sweet Home Airport (Oregon)

Sweet Home Airport (FAA LID: 2OR7) was a private airport located two miles east of Sweet Home in Linn County, Oregon, USA. The airport was founded by pilot Dr. Robert Langmack, who founded the town's hospital in the 1940s. The former location of the airport is now being redeveloped for tract housing.

Talega, San Clemente, California

"Talega" redirects here. For the disputed town with that name in Spain, see Táliga.Talega is the name of a tract housing project in the city of San Clemente in Orange County, California. It is a planned community, and began construction in 1999.

Van Buren, New York

Van Buren is a town located in Onondaga County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 13,185. The town is named after future President Martin van Buren, who was then governor of the state.

The town of Van Buren is located northwest of the city of Syracuse and is in the northwest part of the county. The portion of the town north and east of New York State Route 690 and south of the Seneca River is suburban in character, consisting primarily of single-family tract housing, some low-rise apartment buildings, park land, and some light industry. The balance of the town (south and west of NY 690) is primarily rural.


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