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Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in History

Department

History

Abstract

"At the beginning of the 20th century, a shift began in the way Americans believed they should live. Progressive ideals sought an informal home environment connected to nature, and the popular Arts and Crafts movement's design philosophy reinforced that influence. The American bungalow was developed in response to those ideals, and as electric streetcars opened the urban periphery to development, "streetcar suburbs" full of bungalows proliferated. Particularly in the younger, developing cities of the early 20th century, residential areas are dominated by the American bungalow. In these "streetcar suburbs" early 20th century Americans could live the suburban ideal while taking advantage of urban amenities and infrastructure. Streetcars provided transit to jobs in the city and as the transit lines were extended, so were electricity and plumbing for bungalow developments. For the first time, the average American worker could afford to own a detached, single-family, modern house on a small plot of land. It was the beginning of the "American Dream." This "bungalow era" ended as the automobile became the primary American personal transportation mode. The "suburbs" now extended as far as Americans wished to drive and as the exodus to the "automobile suburbs" began, the streetcar suburbs- and the urban core - were left behind. As the 21st century began, urban renewal projects of the late 20th century were successfully revitalizing many urban areas, and reviving interest in living in and near "the city." Concurrent with concerns focusing on the environmental impact qf suburban "sprawl," a new urban ideal began to emerge. As Americans sought a way to maintain their suburban lifestyle while enjoying the "amenities" of the city, the early 20th century "streetcar suburbs" gained renewed interest and popularity. These neighborhoods of tree- lined streets with "small" houses on manageable plots of land combined with their position on the urban periphery to make them once again the ideal American home, only this time for 21st century suburbanites trying to get closer to the city, rather than 20th century urbanites seeking to escape it. Because of this connection to these now semi-urban areas, the American bungalow has come to be identified with this new urban ideal, and new housing developments are utilizing features of the early 20th century bungalow in their designs- some are even attempting to recreate the urban/suburban mix typical of the old streetcar suburbs in the "automobile suburbs" of the late 20th century"--Document.

Comments

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