By Bud Dietrich, AIA
From the early 19th century through the early 20th, America's cities grew at a rapid pace. Immigrants from other countries as well as a migration from farms to city centers fueled this growth. To accommodate the new urban population, block after block of a new type of urban dwelling, the row house, was constructed. This narrow and tall structure could be built quickly and efficiently and could be single or multifamily depending on neighborhood economics.
The distinguishing feature of these row houses was their narrowness. Typically 20 feet wide, row houses were multiple levels of living space sandwiched between masonry, typically brick, party (shared) walls that provided excellent fire resistance and sound control.
Though many of these houses were demolished for new development, there are several neighborhoods where these homes still reign supreme. In places like New York's Harlem, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope as well as neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and more there are many wonderful old and renovated 19th-century row houses.
In fact, it's the adaptability to our 21st-century lifestyles that makes these houses as relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
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