The meaning of alley housing in industrial towns: examples from late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Pennsylvania

Anne E. Mosher, Deryck W. Holdsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, alley houses were an important feature in the housing landscape of many industrial cities and towns. In general, social reformers and politicians viewed this landscape negatively, but alley houses carried a different meaning for their inhabitants, and those who made income from them. An alley survey made of almost six hundred Pennsylvania communities and a more detailed analysis of the social-spatial structure of Mount Carmel, Vandergrift Borough and Vandergrift Heights suggest that alley houses were a private and small-scale housing response to rapid industrial expansion and population growth. Most likely to appear in atomised property markets where space was at a premium and larger property interests were slow to open up new residential housing tracts for immigrants and young families, alley houses represented labour's response to the demand for shelter. Alley housing thus hints of organic, informal answers to everyday problems in the midst of controlled and hierarchical worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-189
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Archaeology

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