Homes grew from an idea. The idea at first was one of simple shelter and expedient use of available tools and materials. Many anthropologists believe that American Indians, living as long ago as 10,000 B.C., didnít begin to leave their natural shelters to build their own dwellings until A.D. 300. At that time they began to leave their caves and cliffs and settle into areas with plentiful food supplies. There they built permanent small villages of single family dwellings made primarily from earth and logs. Over the years the Indians earned to use the natural materials available to them to create structures that related to climate, their construction abilities, and their cultures. The Plains tribes developed lightweight, port-able, conical structures (tipis) because these Indians were always on the move. The tribes located in New York State evolved a dwelling made primarily of saplings and bark that could be built over a hundred feet long and could have been as many as fifty members of an extended family (Longhouse). Tribes living in the South used weeds grass to keep cool, and the Indians of the great Southwest used earth to make adobe bricks for strong, cool dwellings.
There are eight primary American Indian shelter styles each with a special, individual, primitive idea derived from the straightforward, expedient use of indigenous materials used to construct a shape reflective of the tribeís culture and life-style.
The first European settlers brought house building ideas from their native countries and adapted them to the new locale. Settlements were established in four regions, each with a distinctly different culture. The first was in New England, settled by the English, who developed their house building skills in wood. The second was in the Chesapeake Bay area settled by a wealthier, more dependent group of English who used brick to build houses in the Medieval Style popular then England. The third region was developed by the Germans and Scotch/Irish in the Delaware River valley, where they built stone, influenced somewhat by the architecture of their home lands. The fourth region, the Hudson River valley, was settled by the Dutch, who used a variety of materials to build their dwellings. By 1700 three of these four culture regions were growing along migratory westward across New York State and north into Maine; the Delaware Valley culture followed a frontier to the west across Pennsylvania, southwest along the Appalachian Mountains, and south into North and South Carolina; and the Chesapeake Bay culture moved westward and southward. Only the Dutch culture in the Hudson River valley remained static and had little influence outside its region. New settlements blossomed all along the migratory trails with dwellings built according to climate, skills, available materials, and, most importantly, house building knowledge gained from the original culture region. In the early eighteen century, as homesteaders spread westward into the heart of America, their ideas mixed to create hybrid house designs influenced primarily by the three original regions. The new area was a true melting pot of house building ideas, the beginning of what might be termed a national culture. At the same time the French were settling in the southern portion of their vast empire flanking the Mississippi River. In this hot, damp climate they invented new forms and building techniques that later influenced house building in the Deep South. Spanish speaking people were also settling in California, Texas, and New Mexico, in small religious communities to convent the America Indian to Catholicism. Their colonial architecture ideas were to greatly the California and Florida regions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most housing styles that developed after the American Revolution were the result of national or international trends rather than regional concepts. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, new technologies were developed inspiring a wide variety of new house-building ideas. The Quonset hut and the geodesic dome, developed during World War II, the free form house, possible because of the development of lightweight concrete, and the solar house using new mechanical devices and techniques, were house ideas born from technological advancement.
In 1626, early American Indians sell Manhattan Island for only $24 in trinkets. In 1803, Napoleon sells the Louisiana Territory to the United States for only $15 million. In 1867, Czar Alexander II of Russia sells Alaska to the United States for only $7.2 million.
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