My parents raised me in a white-sided saltbox house, the sort children draw in crayon. Years before we lived there, it had been cut in half and moved across town. We never learned why.
In the days of candles and outhouses, Americans lifted and moved countless houses. To raze an old house and build a new one proved more costly and difficult than laying it on logs and pulling it through unpaved streets by horse or oxen. A 1799 engraving by William Birch and Son reveals a team of horses pulling a saltbox structure attached to wooden wheels through Philadelphia’s Walnut Street. Since then, Americans have moved lighthouses, churches, hotels, theaters, even an airport terminal.
Today Americans move fewer houses. Breaking off and hauling walls and roofs to a landfill is easier, and often cheaper, than recycling a house. Even simpler: demolition. YouTube is full of instructional videos: “How to demolish a house in 20 minutes! [Part I],” “How to Demolish a House in 3 Minutes,” “How To Demolish a House With Case Excavator,” and “Rednecks Blow Up House With Cannon.”
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