Crack at the Picture Window

“For literally nothing down – other than a simple 2% and a promise to pay, and pay, and pay until the end of your life – you too, like a man I call John Drone, can find a box of your own in those fresh-air slums we’re building around the edges of the cities. 

In any of these new neighborhoods you can be certain all other houses will be precisely like yours, inhabited by people whose age, income, number of children, problems, habits, conservation, dress, possessions and possibly even blood type are also precisely like yours. 

In short, ladies and gentlemen, we offer here for your inspection facts relative to today’s housing developments. Conceived in error, nurtured by greed, corroding everything they touch. They destroy established cities and trade patterns, pose dangerous problems for the areas they invade, and actually drive mad myriads of housewives shut up in them.” 

These facts are well-known to responsible economists, sociologists, psychiatrists, city managers and bankers, yet there’s no end in sight to the construction.

Up went the houses, one after another, all alike, and none of those built immediately after the war had any more floor space than a moderately priced, two-bedroom apartment. The dining room, the porch, the basement, and in many cases the attic, were dispensed with and disappeared from the scene.

The result was a little box on a cold concrete slab containing two bedrooms, a bath, and an eating space the size of a broom closet tucked between the living room and tiny kitchen. A 9 x12 rug spread across the largest room wall to wall, and a sheet of plate glass in the living room wall. That, the builder said, was the picture window. The picture it framed was of the box across the treeless street.”

The Crack at the Picture Window, John C. Keats, 1956

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