Urban cottage living & Gentrification!

Recently I have become fascincated with the tiny urban cottages that still exist on almost every block in my mid-century inner-city community. Even after 25 years of constant infilling these cottages remain as reminders of how people lived just two generations ago. There is no room in these homes for a bedroom for every person living there.  There is no master bedroom. no walk-in closets, no media room or home office.

It is interesting to note that, in the '40s '50s and '60s families were larger yet homes were smaller.  These urban cottages are about the size of today's urban condo i.e. 700 to 800 square feet. Some of the new homes being built next to them have an "owners retreat" that is as big or larger. Every new house has a garage that is at least half the size of these mid-century cottages. 

As Canadians have become more and more urban dwellers, we have also become more and more creatures of "comfort, convenience and privacy" (click to see blog on this topic). The ultimate status symbol is the big house with all of the bells and whistles i.e. every member has their own bedroom and own bathroom - heaven forbid we should share. No wonder there is a sense of "entitlement" in youth today! 

As I wander the streets of my neighbourhood I often wonder if those living in these tiny cottage homes could have envisioned the million dollar mansions that are currently being built around them and all the other changes that have taken place in just 50 years. 

I also wonder if we can really envision what this community or others in our city will look like in 50 years.  Will today's mansions be converted into rooming houses like many of the larger homes of the early 20th century were. Or, will we be tearing down the mansions in favour of some other form of urban living.   

One thing is for sure...we will be adapting to a new economic and environmental reality in 2060. Life is just a continuous series of adaptation!

A typical urban cottage on the pariries. White picket fence, porch and large windows make it very welcoming.

Cottage has been adapted for business use, but retains its charm.

Cottage has been renovated to add more space and porch has become outdoor patio / living room

Ranch style cottage

Many of the cottages are today dwarfedby the trees.  This is a lot harder to do with a two story house and underground utlities.

One of the larger cottages. Lots of windows. One of the few with a side entrance.

Red Riding Hood would have loved this little fairy tale like house with the Christmas tree decorations in the tree. 

One of the more unique cottages in the neighbourhood.

One of the few cottages that are set back from the street. You really get a sense of how small they are.  You can see the monster mansion that has been built next door.

There is still an entire block of original urban cottages that seem untouched by time.  

Across the street from the block with the original urban cottages is a row of new infills.  The contrast is wonderful as the new homes have more colour, more design variations and will keep the community thriving for another 50 years.  These new homes accommodate the needs of new families which means the parks, playgrounds and school yards are full of screaming children.  

Example of new mansions that replace the tiny cottages from the '40s.  They come in all styles from contemporary to traditional.  

A blog of urban cottages boarded up and ready for demolition, to be replaced by condos that will cost or rent for twice as much resulting in a decline in the diversity and vitality of the community i.e. gentrification. 

Example of condo projects that replace urban cottages. This is a seniors complex that replace a previous block of tiny cottages for seniors.  It is located next to a power transformer and a homeless shelter and near the Bow River pathway.   It is unfortunate that it isn't a multi-generational complex with say 75% seniors and 25% young artists to add more diversity to the community.