Row House Romance: Have You Seen the Back?

back sides of several joined row houses
Brick/collage: the back side of a row house block with a lot going on. Lawrenceville

Don’t tell Ms. Orbit, but your author has had a long-running affaire d’amour going on decades now. My paramour is lovely—and complicated—but always a surprise. A fellow makes his clandestine visits early in the morning and late at night—sometimes even sneaking in for a Rupert Holmes-style lunch hour. Just like Lionel Richie and the gang, she’s quite literally a brick house … but is still mighty mighty when she dresses down in casual wood frame and siding. Yes, I’m in a legit Row House Romance and here to tell you a fire that burns this hot ain’t going out any time soon.

side-by-side row houses, seen from the rear, with very different backyards
A tale of two backyards, Lawrenceville

We’ve talked in this virtual pages about how terrific row houses appear when they’re close-quartered odd couples, as twins gone wild, and dressed alike, side-by-side. Those collections all contemplate the street-side views of this uniquely urban design.

So today, we move around to the alley backsides of row house blocks where so often the true variations on this theme get amplified. Here—with less people looking and a little more room to make choices—homeowners let these birthed-from-the-same-womb siblings go their own ways.

She joined the fencing team, maybe, and likes to wear false eye … err, window lashes. His waistline expanded with a new addition and dresses like a pile of clothes when he can’t keep his siding straight.

rear view of two row houses
Row house cubism, Lawrenceville
rear of row houses seen over wooden fence
On—and over—the fence. Lawrenceville
rear view of three row houses
Squeezed together, Lawrenceville
side-by-side row houses with similar siding, seen from the rear
Little pink houses, Bloomfield
alley view of brick row houses painted red and pink, Pittsburgh, PA
Split personality, Lawrenceville
rear view of three row houses
Three amigos, Lawrenceville
rear view of brick row house showing differences between two halves
Better fences, Lawrenceville
rear-view of house and garage
Green scene, Millvale

Big Sky Rooflines

Maybe it’s cheating to include so much big blue sky in a photo that’s supposed to be about buildings, but when you’ve got it—and yes, it’s not all that often in Pittsburgh—a photographer will work it like a rented mule. Lit up like billboards and shining like new pennies, even humble row houses are elevated against a perfectly blue sky. It gives the picture a deep, mystical contrast we can’t resist. They just look so darn good—even from the back side.

three similar-looking row houses with white siding, seen from the back
Bloomfield
alley-facing exterior of row houses in Pittsburgh, PA
Lawrenceville
alley view of row houses, Pittsburgh, PA
Lawrenceville
rear view of three row houses
Lawrenceville
alley-facing exterior of row houses in Pittsburgh, PA
Lawrenceville

3 thoughts on “Row House Romance: Have You Seen the Back?

  1. Claudia McGill says:

    I love back views too and when I visit new neighborhoods I try to find a way to nose around. Living in the suburbs as I do some neighborhoods are set up to thwart this plan but a surprising number make it easy. I enjoy viewing the infinite versions of the outdoor kitchens that upscale neighborhoods seem to favor, it seems so silly especially if they have a pool too. And don’t start me on garden sheds or what weird assortment of things people pile behind them and forget. Really enjoyed this post.

    Like

  2. Roger B. says:

    Great finds here. Suggest you stroll South Oakland and try to see the backs of houses on Meyran Avenue, Semple Street, Halket Way et al. I lived at 322 Meyran from 1966 thru 1968. Current photos suggest these homes remain nearly unchanged over the intervening 55 years. Might be worth your time to investigate …

    Like

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