Are Philly’s Trinities the Original Tiny Houses?
Have you heard of the Tiny House movement? It’s kind of cool, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: People build houses — baths, beds, kitchens, the whole works — that are so small that, in many cases, they fit on a trailer and can be carried from site to site.
Sort of like this:
It’s a popular movement, though not, it seems, so much in big cities. Why not? Well, the Atlas Obscura website makes the case that Philly’s Trinity Houses are the original tiny house — just “older and cuter,” so compact that living in one amounts to living in “a very large stairwell.”
The trinity is Philadelphia’s version of the age-old problem of low-cost, high-efficiency urban housing. In the American south, that take would be shotgun homes. In New York, it’s tenements, and sometimes railroad apartments. These were all designed for the poorest workers, and were usually rented. In other cities, they remain rentals, but, says Suzanne Dreitlin, a trinity owner and proprietor of Rowhouse Magazine, “Philly is very much a house city. More houses, fewer apartments.” Philadelphia is the only major city in the northeast where home-owning is common, largely thanks to the comparatively low house prices.