Suburban scene

The backs of houses
Nikon F2A, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Ilford FP4 Plus
LegacyPro L110, Dilution B
2020

In this neighborhood I live in, it’s remarkable to me how many backs of houses I see as I walk on its streets.

A wide main road makes a semi-circle through the neighborhood and all of the sub-neighborhoods branch off it. Because of the curved, cul-de-sac nature of the sub-neighborhoods’ streets, the backs of many houses face the main road. A fence and some trees make a thin attempt to block the view, but they don’t really work.

The pipelines and high-voltage electrical transmission lines that cut through create gaps between houses, making the backs of many houses more visible. Also, the backs of all of the corner houses are visible just by their nature. Finally, some houses back up to a retention pond, and for whatever reason roads pass right by a lot of them here.

Moreover, it’s against the rules here to build a privacy fence. Three feet is all the taller a fence can be.

The upstart is that a private back yard is hard to come by here.

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Film Photography

single frame: The backs of houses

Why you see the backs of so many houses in my neighborhood.

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8 thoughts on “single frame: The backs of houses

    • It’s a rule of our homeowner’s association, and you agree to abide by their rules when you buy into the neighborhood. I’m sure someone somewhere thinks they harm resale value.

  1. Somewhere along the way we changed from a place where houses faced main roads to a place where houses turned their backs on main roads. And from a place where neighborhood streets were on a grid (with alleys out back) to a land of cul de sacs.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    I know in Milwaukee you have to have a “variance” to build any fence, and the city comes out and makes sure it doesn’t cut out “line of sight” for auto traffic; one reason my parents could never have a fence on their corner house near the alley.

    When I lived in Indy, I was always interested in the different types of houses in the same neighborhoods based on historic expansion. When I lived in Pike, I used to take a road called Shanghai Road (why, who knows?), to jump between Lafayette and 71st street. There were weird ‘not-kept-up’ farmhouses from the 20’s, intermixed with 50’s looking ranch homes, some facing Shanghai, some facing Lafayette, mixed in with modern houses, mixed in with ‘one-off’ contractor projects for little cul-de-sacs with 5 houses on them, ending up in modern commercial construction for the Social Security Admin., as well as a call center for Lowe’s . A very weird road.

    • I know Shanghai Road! I worked in Intech Park briefly a long time ago and lived near Kessler/Michigan, and the best way to get there was 56th to Laf. to Shanghai and in the back way.

      Pike was one of the last townships to develop, which helps explain its hodgepodge nature. When I moved here in 1994 there was still a lot of farmland in Pike.

  3. tbm3fan says:

    When we lived in Bogota, NJ between 1958-62 I kind of remember a chain link fence and hedges in the backyard. In Catonsville, MD it was all chain link fences between everyone’s back yard which made sense. Our new German Shephard dog would be all over the neighborhood if not for the fence and you know how some are about seeing a loose German Shepard.

    Now, in California, everyone has backyard fences that are either wood or block unless you have a large wooded, or desert, property so it wouldn’t matter. Now the only places here where I don’t seem fences is condominium/townhome developments that have homeowner association rules.

    • In my last neighborhood most people had back-yard fences. Most were 3-foot chain link, some were homemade out of chicken wire, and some were privacy. We had no HOA to govern it.

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