form follows tax

In his post about narrow urbanisms in New Orleans, Candy Chang refers to the phenomenon of FORM FOLLOWING TAX LAWS. Government taxing according to property frontage led to extraordinary inventions, both in housing (the “shotgun” typology) and also in the skinny land lots along the Mississippi River.

The government taxed two-story houses more; so people added second floors to the rear, where it didn’t count. The government taxed houses based on the number of rooms; so people didn’t make closets or hallways, which counted as rooms. […] Doors are arranged so that in some homes you could potentially shoot a shotgun straight through from the porch to the backyard, hence the name.

In the same way that houses minimised their access to the front street, farmers reduced the size of their plantations to the minimum frontage along the Mississippi, just enough to allow ships transport their goods along the main river.

[image1> shotgun house in New Orleans from candychang via strangemaps] [image2> Southern Mississippi map showing narrow lot tenure structure, 1858 from candychang via strangemaps]

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