“…LITTLE BOXES MADE OF TICKY TACKY….” I posted here about “Little Boxes”, a song from 1962 which attacked conformity. The “Little Boxes” were standardized houses which were poorly made. Here are the lyrics, whose first stanza was:

“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.”

In my post, I said that “…it was the voice of the rich ridiculing people who bought houses that were mass-produced and that those people were probably thrilled to live in houses that were the nicest that they had ever lived in.” I quoted Tom Lehrer that “Little Boxes” was “the most sanctimonious song ever written”.

In his history of the ranch house, Witold Rybczynski gives an economic explanation for what was perceived as a desire for conformity in the early 1960’s, as expressed by the song. Standardized houses were the safest investments for your largest investment. Rybczynski says: “Houses are the largest investments that most families will ever make, and as prudent small investors, they tend to be conservative and to avoid unnecessary risk. While architectural critics frequently disparage the uniformity of housing, that is precisely what buyers demand; they don’t want to be stuck with an odd or dated house at the time of resale. Contrarians don’t do well in the housing market.”

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