6. The Wrecking Ball In this century, the "throw-away society" approach to housing has become as uniquely American as our building efforts. "People have torn down more houses this century than perhaps any other time," says David Shayt, of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. "The phenomenon of destroying our architecture is not one you find elsewhere." While some homes were burned in the 18th century in order to salvage nails, most often the material components of a house were so valuable the rule was to add on, not obliterate. "A fair bit of one's life was invested in the timbers and masonry of one's house," says Shayt. "That's why handing one's house down to children and grandchildren was much more the case than it is today.
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