Public Housing Homes As Worker Castles: Way Back When

A quiet courtyard between four story high, elegant off-white buildings
Victorian Social Housing photo by Steve Cadman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Scattered here and there in the United Kingdom, there is still standing social housing that is 150 years old, not only early "high rises" like these but also rows of worker's cottages.

From Liverpool UK, here’s a modest little “good news” post about public housing — if you’re prepared to head back to the Victorian era in the 19th century for your news.

It’s a small celebration of what social/public housing was meant to be — good solid housing for workers. No, public housing was not originally intended to fulfill current thinking as the housing of last resort for the unemployable. Nor was it meant to be an “up and out” temporary way-station on an inevitable (and indeed required) path to better things.

As well, the dating of the now-unique rows of housing featured in the following article puts them maybe a century and a half ahead of some currently acclaimed thinking about the shape of a modern livable city.

In this case we’re referencing the trendy topic of the “15 minute” city in which neighbourhoods should be built such that its citizens are no more than 15 minutes from everything they need: work, recreation, and amenities.

Never mind 15 minutes! The housing featured in the following article is just a pop round the corner from work at a bread factory that still exists.

Finally, it seems many North Americans are convinced that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt invented public housing in the 1930’s as a response to the Great Depression. Here’s a small history lesson which admittedly does little for American Exceptionalism while dialing back history by a number of decades, if not more1.

Read more in the The Liverpool Echo: Mystery of the terraced houses on suburban street frozen in time


  1. From a “Dialing Back More” point of view, here’s a story about German public housing still going strong after 600 years. Try: Evidence Public Housing Can Be Done Better, The Next Time Around

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