Television programs from the 1950s like "Father Knows Best" helped embed the single-family home in the American mind as a symbol of everything that was good. Jim Anderson, who worked in the insurance industry, came home weekdays to have dinner with his wife and three children in the dining room. Outside was a yard. Upstairs from the dining room the Andersons had their bedrooms.
Economic realities of the second decade of the 21st century are deep-sixing that symbolism. THE NEW YORK TIMES reports that home ownership in the U.S. has dropped to 66.4 percent. It's supposed to go lower. Not only is owning a home not perceived as a solid investment [actually it never was]. It's become such a worry that it's lost plenty of its halo. Visit a friend or colleague whose house value is under water and there isn't much warm and fuzzy associated with what was once anointed as a piece of heaven.
The apartment will roar back as a platform for living, having friends over, and working out conflicts with our significant others. "I Love Lucy" was so refreshing back in that time when we were all supposed to want to be The Andersons because the Richardo family resided in an apartment. They had fights. They kept information from one another. Their friends who also lived in an apartment came to visit.
Despite the wild popularity of "I Love Lucy," at the free art lessons at the Jersey City Public Library, the instructor insisted we portray where we lived as a single-family house. No fool, I didn't sketch out the five railroad-room apartment on the third floor of a tenement in which not ony my family but relatives immigrating from Poland also went about our lives. At the end of the 1990s, I thought I had made it when I purchased on the Gold Coast of Connecticut a house just like the Anderson's.
More multi-unit buildings are going up, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES. Children born now might consider the single-family home not only a dumb financial move but very unsustainable. Trees will belong in the park, not surrounding a human dwelling.