Census Bureau

Picture of a houseCensus of Housing

HOUSING: THEN AND NOW 50 YEARS OF DECENNIAL CENSUSES

The types of houses we live in have changed greatly in the United States in a single lifetime. People under 40 may be amazed that as recently as 1940, nearly half the houses lacked complete plumbing facilities; in some States, this rate topped 80 percent! About 1-in-10 of 1940 households lived in crowded conditions (more than one person per room). By 1980, this had become almost nonexistent. However, since 1980, did you know the incidence of crowded units has increased? Younger people may find it difficult to believe coal was the most common heating fuel in our homes in 1950. In 1990, utility gas had replaced coal, being used by about half of all households nationally. But, heating fuel trends have varied considerably by State over the decades. We have assembled tables that show housing trends by States over the decades. The first housing census was taken in 1940. Not all items can be traced back that far, but we have obtained data as far back as possible using printed reports. Housing concepts have changed in many instances. We have tried to make the data comparable as much as possible. Notes on the tables are important to determine where exact comparability could not be obtained.

o Crowding o Recent Movers o Units in Structure
o Homeownership o Sewage Disposal o Vacation Homes
o Living Alone o Source of Water
o Plumbing Facilities o Telephones


Contact Bob Bonnette at 301-763-8553(rbonnett@census.gov) for further information on the Census of Housing.
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Last Revised: Tuesday, 10-Dec-96 09:01:17