top of page
  • Marie McKinsey

Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

I grew up in San Francisco's East Bay area, in the 1950s. My early memories are of orchards, vineyards and farm fields that grew every kind of produce. But by the end of that decade, agriculture had been overtaken by housing developments.

The houses in these developments were small, single family units. They looked cheap, and they were cheap - prices ranged from $6,000 - $8,000. Their cookie-cutter design meant that they all looked the same. The only feature that set them apart was the exterior paint scheme.

In the 1960s, these sprawling housing developments inspired Malvina Reynolds to write the song, "Little Boxes." The beloved folk singer, Pete Seeger, recorded it. It became an instant hit.

When I moved to Seattle, just over 30 years ago, I was reminded of San Francisco when I was a child. The rolling hills, the steep streets downtown, being surrounded by green. I hoped that Seattle would avoid overbuilding and turning into another SF Bay Area.

Sadly, I find myself humming "Little Boxes" as I look around my neighborhood. They are everywhere. Little boxes stacked, one on top of another, are now called townhouses or row houses. They are tall and narrow and have lots of stairs. They're all cladded with ticky tacky, Hardie Plank. And they all look just the same.

"Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky tacky Little boxes, little boxes Little boxes all the same

There's a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one And they're all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same"



bottom of page