Ask a question about 'Polish flat'
Start a new discussion about 'Polish flat'
Answer questions from other users
A Polish flat
is a two-family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...
A home is a place of residence or refuge. When it refers to a building, it is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and store personal property. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food. Animals have their own homes as well, either...
with separate entrances, and with the units stacked on top of one another instead of side-by-side. Most homes of this type were constructed in the early 20th century.
Constructing the units in two stages balanced affordability and quality. The new Polish immigrants, as soon as they could afford to do so, would purchase a small one-story or story-and-a-half cottage, or sometimes build one on a vacant lot with minimum cost, with modest Victorian Gothic or Queen Anne façade. When they saved again, they would than raise the frame up on jacks creating a partially sunken basement, excavate the area underneath, pour concrete floor, build foundation walls with masonry (usually concrete blocks), then set the old frame back down over the new apartment. While highly unorthodox, it was an ingenious technique of building new accommodations without disrupting family life, in line with their growing wealth.
This arrangement enabled a family of limited means to end up with both a home and a modestly priced rental apartment
An apartment or flat is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building...
unit. Most of the Polish flats that survive to this day are found in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is the largest city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, the 28th most populous city in the United States and 39th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Milwaukee County and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. According to 2010 census data, the...
. Since Polish American
A Polish American , is a citizen of the United States of Polish descent. There are an estimated 10 million Polish Americans, representing about 3.2% of the population of the United States...
immigrants prized land ownership in their own culture, this solution which was prominent in the areas they settled in came to be associated with them.
Polish flats were, in the words of former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist
John Olof Norquist is an American politician and 37th mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as mayor from 1988 until he left office in 2004 to lead the Congress for the New Urbanism.-Personal background:...
in his book The Wealth of Cities
"specifically designed both to accommodate and to accelerate the economic improvement of the family... Polish flats were human values reflected in architecture and testified to the hard work, practicality, and optimism of their inhabitants."