Historic cities: 10 subways with the oldest houses

Jamie Hooper // Shutterstock

Historic cities: 10 subways with the oldest houses

A pink Victorian house with yellow flowers in the front yard.

When it comes to homeownership, some buyers prefer towns steeped in history and, given the opportunity, choose to restore historic homes to their former glory.

Historic preservation is a way of preserving the uniqueness of a city and showing its history. While this is a popular concept in many cities, there are many places in some that feel different. For example, in Japan, houses are often demolished every 30 years. In America, Austin, Texas residents are also less likely to find historic homes. This city had the highest percentage of new homes built after 2014 in this dataset.

For those looking for the charm of historic homes, the New Jersey Real Estate Network collected Census Bureau data to find the metropolitan areas with the highest number of old homes. There are 23,842,900 homes in the United States built before 1949, about 17% of all homes.

Several cities on this list date back to colonial times. Other areas boomed as industry and rail transport expanded. However, in many small towns, after the steel, mining, textile and rail industries collapsed, people moved away and the demand for new construction dropped significantly.

The data for this ranking comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Five-Year American Community Survey. Metros are ranked based on the percentage of total residential units in the area that were built before 1949. The percentages displayed are rounded.


#Ten.Greater Boston

A brown house tucked away between brick buildings on a cobbled street.

– Houses built before 1949: 742,124 units (37.6% of total units)

As you drive through Greater Boston, you’ll find yourself driving through America’s early history, as all the towns and cities in the region were settled well before the Revolutionary War. Preserving history is important in this area. Many historic homes still exist today, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places, or are located in town or city historic districts.

Homes in Greater Boston span a wide variety of architectural styles. Boston’s Back Bay area has many protected Victorian and Edwardian homes. Other architectural styles include Queen Anne, Federal, Georgian, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italian, Romanesque Revival, Second Empire, Tudor Revival, and of course Colonial.


#9.Buffalo Cheektowaga, New York

Large historic house in autumn.

– Houses built before 1949: 208,352 units (39.3% of total units)

At the turn of the 20th century, Buffalo had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States due to its status as the nation’s largest grain port and second-largest railroad hub. The house was commensurate with their wealth, but today only a two-block section of Millionaire’s Row remains.

As Buffalo’s billionaire class developed, many residential neighborhoods in the city were transformed into mixed-use properties, with commercial properties on the ground floor and residences on the upper floors. This building strategy helped create a commercial district within the neighborhood.

Buffalo’s housing stock includes a variety of architectural styles, including Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial, Neoclassical Revival, Craftsman Bungalow, and Sears Catalog House. For apartment complexes, Buffalo features double houses, which are side-by-side units, and two stories, with units on separate floors.

David Byron Keener // Shutterstock

#8.Greater Wheeling, West Virginia

Beautiful old suspension bridge to Wheeling, West Virginia.

– Houses built before 1949: 27,538 units (40.0% of total units)

Located on the banks of the Ohio River, Wheeling was the first capital of West Virginia. Industry flourished there, with the manufacture of iron, steel, glasswork, tobacco, and nail clippers all having a significant impact on the economy in the late 1800s.

The city’s boom years are reflected in its housing stock, which is dominated by Victorian-era architecture, including Queen Anne, Romanesque, Greek Revival, and Italian styles. The Chaplin Street Row Historic District is a high-end example of this architecture. North Wheeling has more modest housing from this period, while many of South Wheeling’s gritty tenements have been demolished.


#7.Altoona, Pennsylvania

Snow covered roofs surrounded by mountains.

– Houses built before 1949: 23,309 units (40.9% of total units)

Altoona’s early industrial tendencies were iron making, but the city gained prominence with its railroad industry. In the mid-1800s, the Pennsylvania Railroad built the city as a terminal. Altoona also became famous as a center for building and repairing steam locomotives and rolling stock.

Its heyday was in the early 1900s, and the city’s housing stock reflects that period, consisting of many single-family homes and tenements. The style can be found in various historic districts of the city, such as Queen Anne and Colonial Revival.

However, the proportion of old and new homes may have changed. The city set records for the number of building permits issued for all types of homes in 2020 and 2021.

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#6.Elmira, New York

Aerial view of historic buildings and homes in Elmira, New York.

– Houses built before 1949: 16,193 units (41.5% of total units)

Elmira flourished as a transportation hub in the 1800s and early 1900s due to its proximity to New York State canals and railroads. When Hurricane Agnes devastated downtown Elmira in 1972, his decision not to rebuild hampered the city’s recovery.

It retains a dilapidated housing stock that reflects the city’s glory days. increase. The Southside neighborhood has several Craftsman and Prairie style homes. There are also several octagonal houses in the Elmira area, most notably a small building owned by Mark Twain, which he used as a study.

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#Five.Utica Rome, New York

Aerial view of historic homes in Utica, New York.

– Houses built before 1949: 59,109 units (42.4% of total units)

These cities in central New York state on the Mohawk River played a role in the American Revolutionary War. With the Erie Canal between Rome and Utica completed in his 1819, these cities played an important role in the transportation of goods throughout his 1800s. Rome produced about 10% of the country’s copper, and Utica was a major center for textile manufacturing.

The country’s centenary interest in Colonial houses in the area has been renewed, along with architectural styles typical of the period: Federal, Queen Anne, Romanesque, and Greek Revival. In the 1870s and his 1880s, stick-style homes with horizontal siding and wood trim around the porch and shingle-style homes covered with wooden shingles became popular. Bungalows were introduced in the early 20th century and became very popular.


#Four.Scranton Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania cityscape with an old water tower in the foreground.

– Houses built before 1949: 114,377 units (43.3% of total units)

Many consider Scranton to be the home of Dunder Mifflin, the star of NBC’s workplace comedy series The Office. However, the discovery of coal and the development of railroads made Scranton and Wilkesbarre major industrial centers in northeastern Pennsylvania. Disasters continue to occur in this region. In 1959, miners crashed through the bed of the Susquehanna River, flooding the mines and bringing mining to a halt in the area. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes devastated the area, destroying many homes and businesses, including many historic Victorian buildings.

The elegant homes of the time featured a variety of styles, from Colonial Revival to Beaux Arts. Even Wilkes College students can relive the glory days in the mansion-style residences.

George Raymond Gibbs // Shutterstock

#3.Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Houses covered in snow in winter in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

– Houses built before 1949: 28,987 units (43.9% of total units)

Although Johnstown had to be rebuilt three times after devastating floods in 1889, 1936 and 1977, it still has many old homes. Johnstown’s industry is tied to coal and steel, making it a popular destination for immigrants from all over Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Much of the city’s older housing stock was designed for the working class, think the distinctive balloon-framed and boarded-up houses. Group housing styles include side-by-side doubles, flats, tenements, and brick apartments.

The city’s more prominent houses represent numerous architectural styles, from Queen Anne and Romanesque to Prairie and Bungalow.

Robert Galan // Shutterstock

#2.Danville, Illinois

Historic Courthouse and downtown Danville, Illinois.

– Houses built before 1949: 16,044 units (44.5% of total units)

Located two and a half hours south of Chicago, Danville is a rugged roller coaster city.

Coal, railroads, and manufacturing brought prosperity in the early 1900s, but the Great Depression and a slowdown in the railroad industry led to decline. In the 1950s, more industries moved in and expanded. In recent years, the globalization of outsourcing and soaring state taxes have led to a shrinking population and an ongoing battle against economic recession.

The city’s oldest residential neighborhood is next to the downtown area. The city’s zoning laws aim to preserve the unique character of the area by prescribing architectural styles. These styles include Italian, Queen Anne, Craftsman, Prairie, Greek His Revival, Tudor, and American Foursquare.


#1.Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Aerial view of downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts with mountains in the distance.

– Houses built before 1949: 31,583 units (45.7% of total units)

Settled in 1752, Pittsfield originally had an agricultural economy, but sawmills, gristmills and textile mills have popped into the landscape. In 1891, the Electric Manufacturing Company, which eventually became General Electric, moved there and contributed to the city’s prosperity.

GE was also largely responsible for the city’s decline as it closed or moved major business units, including transformers and aerospace divisions.

Today the city is reborn as a cultural center surrounded by the beauty of the Berkshire Mountains. In 2021, the city will rezoning downtown to create the Downtown He Creative District, which includes mixed-use developments. One example is the redevelopment of the Howard Building, a 1916 Classic Revival-style commercial building. There is now a retail store on the ground floor and loft apartments on the upper floors.

This story was originally published and produced by the New Jersey Real Estate Network,
Distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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