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Columbia College Chicago
Housing Washington

Housing Washington

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Distributed by University of Chicago Press

Architectural History, Washington D.C.

8 x 10

Page count:
480 pages

Illustration count and type:
480 pages

Publication date:
April  2010

Two Centuries of Residential Development and Planning in the National Capital Area
Edited by Richard Longstreth


    Since the early nineteenth century, an unusually rich and varied array of housing stock has been created in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Examining this legacy tells us much about the development of the nation’s capital, as well as what has become one of the nation’s major population centers. Housing Washington covers significant aspects of the subject, from the early nineteenth century to the present time. The essays address two overarching, complementary spheres: housing patterns that were common to the area and projects that were conceived as new models locally and, often, nationally.
    Washington has harbored numerous private-sector initiatives to develop model housing projects, and it also has been a proving ground for federal policies crafted to improve living conditions for households of middle and moderate income. Although Washington is often recognized for its conservatism in architecture, the city was, in the twentieth century, an incubator for Modernism both in the planning of residential developments and in housing design.
The large, middle-class, African-American population has left a distinct imprint on the metropolitan area’s domestic landscape. During the late nineteenth century, this demographic contingent began to develop its own options for housing in city and suburb alike. During the mid--twentieth century, Washington’s black middle class also played a key role in the gradual erosion of racial barriers in the residential sphere.
    Profusely illustrated, with thirteen chapters by fourteen esteemed authors, Housing Washington breaks new ground in architectural, urban studies, and planning history. By focusing on a wide variety of mainstream patterns and on others intended to become so, interweaving the threads of convention and change as well as those of race and class, the book offers a fresh perspective on metropolitan dwelling places.

Author Biography

Richard Longstreth is Professor of American Studies and director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at George Washington University. He has written and published extensively on the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture in the United States. In recent years, his research has focused on retail development in major metropolitan areas, relating economic, design, urbanistic, and cultural factors that have fundamentally reshaped the American landscape since 1920.