A Paradise of Small Houses: The Evolution, Devolution, and Potential Rebirth of Urban Housing (Hardcover)

A Paradise of Small Houses: The Evolution, Devolution, and Potential Rebirth of Urban Housing By Max Podemski Cover Image
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From the Haitian-style “shotgun” houses of the 19th century to the lavish high-rises of the 21st century, a walk through the streets of America’s neighborhoods that reveals the rich history—and future—of urban housing

The Philadelphia row house. The New York tenement. The Boston triple-decker. Every American city has its own iconic housing style, structures that have been home to generations of families and are symbols of identity and pride. Max Podemski, an urban planner for the city of Los Angeles and lifelong architecture buff, has spent his career in and around these buildings. Deftly combining his years of experience with extensive research, Podemski walks the reader through the history of our dwelling spaces—and offers a blueprint for how time-tested urban planning models can help us build the homes the United States so desperately needs.

In A Paradise of Small Houses, Podemski charts how these dwellings have evolved over the centuries according to the geography, climate, population, and culture of each city. He introduces the reader to styles like Chicago’s prefabricated workers cottages and LA’s car-friendly dingbats, illuminating the human stories behind each city’s iconic housing type. Through it all, Podemski interrogates the American values that have equated home ownership with success and led to the US housing crisis, asking, “How can we look to the past to build the homes, neighborhoods, and cities of the future that our communities deserve?”

About the Author

Max Podemski is an urban planner, a writer, and an illustrator who currently serves as a transportation planner for the city of Los Angeles. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, and KCET. His work has been profiled in a range of media, including Curbed, KPCC public radio, and the Jewish Journal. He also runs an architectural print company called Polkela.

Praise For…

“His intelligent analysis and deep research lend strength to his conclusion that what is required to solve the housing crisis is not just more large-scale urban developments but the deregulation of what was once common—small-scale urban home-building by local businesses and families drawing on regional design traditions. It’s a must-read for housing advocates.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“[Podemski’s] argument is convincing. A thoughtful history of affordable housing that establishes the basis for reasoned discussion and well-informed policy.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The real treat is Mr. Podemski’s histories of each building type, which trace the interplay of engineering, economics, culture and even morality. . . .This is a valuable book despite such small flaws. At a moment when housing-policy battles can seem deadlocked, 'A Paradise of Small Houses' conveys a tonic sense of what is, or has been, possible.”
—Timothy Farrington, Wall Street Journal

“Through this beautifully written and illustrated rich history of everyday houses that form our communities and neighborhoods, Max Podemski shares an insightful account of American cities and their urban development that will greatly appeal to architects, urban designers, planners, historians, housing advocates, and urbanists interested in just cities.”
—Vinit Mukhija, author of Remaking the American Dream: The Informal and Formal Transformation of Single-Family Housing Cities

“If you love visiting, exploring, and thinking about American cities as much as I do, A Paradise of Small Houses is an indispensable travel companion. With this book, Max Podemski has fashioned a fantastic new lens through which to view the history and politics of redlining, zoning, housing affordability, urban design, and so much more. But mainly, the book is just plain fun.”
—Ray Delahanty, creator of CityNerd

“From Boston’s triple-deckers to LA’s dingbats, Max Podemski shows not only the enduring beauty and charm of small houses but the essential role they play in the affordability and livability of American cities.”
—William Fulton, former director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University and author of Guide to California Planning

“If an author writes about the history and future of urban housing, and has references I didn’t know about, I have to read further. If the book not only tells me things I didn’t know about urban housing but also a new frame for thinking about it, well then, that’s worth paying for. Max’s book is worth it.”
—Gordon Price, former Vancouver city council member and founder and former director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University

Product Details
ISBN: 9780807007785
ISBN-10: 0807007781
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: March 26th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English