The C Is for Crank

The Seattle Times declared today, in an above-the-fold front page story, headlined in zillion-point, all-caps, bold-faced type, that "BIG HOUSES" are taking over "SMALL LOTS" across the city. (The city council is considering legislation to regulate houses on so-called substandard lots.)

The supposed scourge they're citing, of course, are the (very few) tall, skinny houses that have sprung up sporadically in undersize lots across the city; the houses tend to lack the large yards that traditional Seattle Craftsman homes have, and, because they're modern-looking, have been criticized as "out of character" with many older neighborhoods. (Sorry, can't link; the story's behind the new paywall). 

A quick search through the Times' archive finds that the paper has repeatedly referred to apartments and houses the same size as the offending 'BIG HOUSES" as "shoeboxes."

So how big are these "BIG HOUSES"? In the example cited by the Times' reporter, Lynn Thompson: 1,050 square feet.

Interestingly enough, a quick search through the Times' archive finds that the paper has repeatedly referred to apartments and houses the same size as—or, in at least one case, three times the size of—the offending 'BIG HOUSES" as "shoeboxes."

In a story from 2003, for example, a Times reporter called a 1,000-square-foot condo a "shoebox" and discussed the creative solutions urban dwellers might consider to manage living in such a tiny, confined space. "This is a new lifestyle to most Northwest natives," they wrote.

Interesting how context—neighbors angry at change in their single-family neighborhoods vs. urban dwellers comfortable with adjusting to an evolving city—can turn a "shoebox" into a megamansion.