Garage Door

If you’ve ever driven through Levittown, Long Island, you’ve seen the paradigm of post-World War II housing. Designed for the young parents who were giving birth to the baby boom generation, Levittown houses were built in accordance with the principles of pre-fabricated housing constructed for servicemen, but they incorporated the “must-haves” of post-war life: big yards, modern appliances, a television antenna, and other conveniences. Promotional photos for Levittown over a period of years show that the evolution of the garage followed major trends in the changing American lifestyle.

The earliest house plans from the 1940s show boxy, Cape Cod-style homes with a living room, dining room, bath, and two bedrooms. There were no driveways: the single car owned by most families was parked on the street. By 1950, the company brochure offered five houses in a modified Cape Cod/Ranch style, each with a driveway leading to a single attached carport. And in the sister suburb of Levittown, PA, in 1954, the developers presented a variety of homes that incorporated the latest essential in home design – an enclosed garage.

Today, if you drive through even the most moderate suburban neighborhood, you’re likely to see a gaping, two- or three-car garage opening directly onto the street, with living quarters sprawling behind and above. The garage has become the fa├žade of the modern American home.

The growth in the importance of the garage has coincided with the presence of more and more cars in the typical American family. When Henry Ford lowered the price of his Model T so that “the workers who build them can afford to buy them,” the option of owning an automobile became a reality for families of modest means, and through the decades from 1910 to 1930 car ownership grew steadily.

Auto sales fell as World War II limited both income and the availability of raw materials, but millions more women learned to drive as they filled jobs previously held by servicemen. By the time the subdivision building boom began shortly after the war, nearly any young couple could afford a house for $8,000 and an $800-dollar station wagon. Typically, after driving her husband to the commuter train station, the housewife used the car to shop and run errands. (African American and other minority families, including Jews in many suburbs, were shut out of housing opportunities by restrictive covenants in the North and Jim Crow laws in the South. But that’s another story.)

Soon, though, a single car wasn’t enough: Dad wanted the family car, and Mom needed her own. By the 1960s, it was not uncommon for a teen to get a vehicle – often a grandparent’s old car – for his 16th birthday. Instead of parking on the street or under a single carport, a family now needed at least a double garage plus room to park a third or even fourth vehicle. Today, in addition to a garage for two cars (or, more likely, one car plus an attic’s worth of clutter), many suburban and rural homes include an additional, oversized garage for the RV.

Garage doors have changed, too. The earliest ones in the late 19th century were simply barn doors that allowed a farmer to bring a horse-drawn buggy into the garage for loading and unloading or storage out of the weather. They hinged outward or rolled sideways on steel tracks like a sliding closet door and were used for mechanized vehicles – tractors, cars, and trucks – as they came into wider use. Carriage houses, originally built by the wealthy for horses and carriages, also began to hold automobiles.

By the early 1920s, as more and more middle-class families could afford Model Ts, a modified version of the garage appeared. Usually a small shed (often only eight or ten feet wide), the garage wasn’t wide enough for a sliding door. A single hinged door would be too heavy and ungainly to move, so a split, hinged door, each half three or four feet wide and seven to eight feet tall, was used instead. These old wooden doors can still be seen in rural areas; they often look homemade, with small windowpanes and one-by-six-inch diagonal cross-braces across the front. But their weight put great stress on hinges, screws, and the frame, and, when there was snow on the ground, it had to be shoveled out of the way before the doors could swing open.

The invention of the articulated (folding) door was the first real innovation in garage doors. A door split into hinged vertical sections could slide or roll back into the garage itself. In 1921, Mr. C. G. Johnson designed an overhead garage door with horizontal articulation. Lifted from the bottom, the door rolled up and out of the way, each section leveling out as it followed the curve of parallel steel tracks. Five years later Johnson invented the electric opener, to assist people without the strength to raise the heavy door. Johnson’s company became the Overhead Door Corporation, still a leading manufacturer of garage doors.

Later developments included the slab door raised on a strong track, and doors using lightweight materials, like Styrofoam-insulated steel, and steel alloys and fiberglass that roll into a compact space – the roll-down security doors seen at many businesses today.

Along with changes in technology came changes in style. As garages were gradually incorporated into houses – that is, going from a separate building to an attached one to part of the structure itself – the look and palette of garage doors evolved. No longer limited to the red-stained barn-door model or the white paint of early 20th-century design, they began to echo French Provincial, English Manor, Colonial, and California Ranch houses, among other popular architectural styles.

The modern garage, far from being an outbuilding or an afterthought, is as much a part of the typical American home as a family room and kitchen. And, in accordance with that status, garage doors today come in all the materials and styles favored by homeowners: traditional wood – with or without glass inserts and with or without resin impregnation – articulated steel and alloys, fiberglass, vinyl coatings, and aluminum.

Incorporating the garage into the house itself also means that intruders can gain entry, unless the homeowner pays close attention to access control. At Mr. Locks Security Systems, both remote control and security access control devices are available, and garage doors and security gates (for both residential and commercial applications) are custom designed and built to the client’s specifications.

With the wide range of sizes, styles, and finishes offered (including high-security doors), every homeowner can and should choose the best materials and the right locks and security systems for total access control. When the safety of a home and family is at stake, it makes sense to make sure.

Andrew Reed grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. He moved to New York in 1970, and following his undergraduate studies at Columbia University he became a marketing specialist with National Broadcasting and other companies. He returned to the WNC mountains in 1993, where he works as an editor, freelance writer, and marketing consultant. He operates a web-based editing and marketing company, and specializes in writing for web sites.

Genetically Modified Food – Calling All Scientists

To all scientists everywhere

I realise that the money for research comes from large companies but do you honestly think that developing a gene-modification-based solution to our problems is the long term answer? We are already releasing unknown and un-stoppable genetically modified food plants into the wild to breed with other native plants causing unknown results. As a scientist, do you not feel morally obliged to help the environment or are you just doing this as a career and for money?

Patenting of gene research

Already companies are buying up and registering patents which will stop poor countries of the world having access to its products. Any research that you as a scientist do, is probably owned by the university or lab where you do your research and as such will be sold to the highest bidder or be quickly patented by the companies with the closest links to your establishment.

Seed banks are the gold of the future

Seed banks are being bought up by a select few companies, as they know that this will become the ‘gold’ of the future and access to gene pools of native and natural untainted specimens will be the pot of gold. They do not need to distribute their genetically modified crops, because nature will do that for them. These companies only have to police and charge any farmer whose crops have become ‘tainted’ by nature with the new and patented genes. Soon, it will be a monopoly of farms owned by and run by the power hungry aggressive companies who own the patents to these crops. The small or medium-sized farmer will be gone, put out of business but the high charges levied by these companies who own the patents on the genes that the farmers had no idea they had acquired.

Perfect or cloned humans?

If you are working with animal genes rather than plant genes, I suspect that already in 2010 there are rich and powerful organisations who have access to human genetic modification or replication and a purer form of human. This is something which Hitler started in the Second World War, and may well become a reality within our lifetime but perhaps introduced through the scientific back door. Although there are guidelines in existence now, the back-door entrance provides entry without the rigid moral controls that the guidelines impose and for those with money, there is always a small gap under the door.

Money makes it possible

The problem is money. Money makes research possible. Money makes discoveries possible. The organisation that put up the funding wants a return on the money it gave for research and the result of the research, when patented, gives that return on their investment. But… who owns that company which needs a return on its investment? Why… you and I own that company through our shares and our pension fund and our life insurance.

Our responsibilities

We sit back and expect others to make decisions for us that are morally the ones we should make, but agendas of others are different, their motivation and their reason for being is different from ours. Quite often, this makes the decisions they make, not the ones we would choose, but the responsibility still remains with us. Unfortunately, however much we would like to do so, we cannot pass the buck on our responsibility and we will be judged in the future by our offspring.

We really need to wake up

Wake up and see what we are releasing into the wild and see that, once released, we cannot re-capture the natural and un-modified-by-man organisms that we once had. All the natural diversity will be controlled or killed off, leaving only a subset of possibilities which some scientist – maybe you – in a white coat believes is for the public good.

Things to Consider Before House Construction

Before you even decide to begin house construction, everything should be considered and planned. Building a house means a great commitment. It can even be life altering too. That is why you should not only consider the look of your house but how you’re going to pay for it and how it’s going to change your life.

Look and Size of the House

If you are no longer happy with your home or you feel that you need to repair the house after a natural disaster, then a construction project is at hand. While this is a big commitment on your part, it is something you must do for the safety and the happiness of the family.

Since you already have the location you can decide on how big of a construction it’s going to be. You may want to have the biggest house in the block. This may be a great idea now. However, it may be an issue if you decide to resell later on. Grander houses generally are harder to sell than moderately sized home. So, if you have plans of reselling later on, it might be a good idea to limit the construction to a certain size.

Of course, it is important that you consider the design that you want for your home before the construction. This is usually important right from the start since you would also want to live in a home that is designed according to your tastes.

Total Budget and Financing

With the general idea now in your mind, you can start to budget the cost of the construction. Aside from the lot, you would need to have the cost of the construction budgeted based on the materials and labor cost. If the total cost of the house you have in mind is too much, you would have to adjust. You would also need to find out if you can qualify for a mortgage loan. Again, if you cannot get a loan big enough for the size of the construction, you would have to make adjustments.

Hire a Contractor

The decision to hire a contractor is quite crucial to the project as well. Hiring a contractor would make the work easier and more convenient for you. However, it would cost more to hire one. Nevertheless, the contractor would know the best suppliers of materials. You may even be able to save money in total cost in the end. A contractor would also know the best people for the job so it’s really easier if you simply hire a contractor.

Time Allocated for the Project

With everything planned and laid out, you should have a reasonable estimate on how long it’s going to take the construction to finish. If you know how long it would take, it would be less stressful for you. Of course, monitoring the project from time to time is necessary too. After all, you would want to make sure that the builders are doing everything right. You would also want to protect your investment.