Friday, June 12, 2015

"Live on the Porch More" says Ad from 1915

June 19th, 1915
Here's a great ad for porch life!

It's a reminder that in the streetcar era, the front porch and "intertidal zone" between a home's front door and street was much more active than it is today in the suburban autoist era.

As we get ready for the annual "Tour of Homes," the contrast is striking.

Exterior shots of the houses focus on the garage and its implied autoist mobility, with activity quickly moving to the interior, private space. Outdoor activities then center on the back deck or patio, not the front porch.

Exemplifying this, the Home Builders Association leads with an interior shot, a sliding door, and blank stone wall off a short patio.

Home  Builders Association Splash
By contrast, Olsen Development, the folks doing a project at Fairview, leads with a front porch and furniture, and the street life sociality that implies. It's a back-to-the-future revival. It may have some roots in nostalgia for "simpler times" - the day before the Tour kicks off is a Juneteenth celebration at Riverfront Park and that alone is reminder enough the past in socializing and in real estate was plenty complicated - but there are also important bits of useable past to retrieve, not the least of which is a focus on walking as a foundational, and enduringly pleasant, kind of mobility.

Eric Olsen Splash


Samuel Barber's "Knoxville, Summer of 1915" is perfect, and I don't know why I didn't think of it immediately:
It has become that time of evening, when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently...

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