A Brief History of a Long Standing American Symbol
What do Leave it to Beaver, The Partridge Family, and a Lego playhouse set have in common? Well, many things; in all three you’ll find a house with a happy family, a beautiful yard, and the bow that ties it all together – a White Picket Fence. As American as apple pie, White Picket Fences have been a long standing symbol of family life since the colonists first settled on American soil.
In the 1600’s, settlers used picket fences to showcase class and independence. Colonists chose the color white as a statement of virtue: a White Picket Fence indicated prosperity and the ability to own and maintain whitewashed wood. As populations and estates expanded across the frontier, an American tradition was born.
The Picture of A Perfect Life
As television rose to prominence in the 60s and 70s, the iconic White Picket Fence was seen alongside famous television stars depicting the ideal American life. A playful puppy dog barking at passing cars, occasionally stopping to smell the grass or spin in circles; cheerful kids playing safely in the front yard on a summer day with the wind in their faces; a pretty mother picking fresh roses from her garden – these were all images framed with a beautiful White Picket Fence.
In no time at all, the White Picket Fence found its way into the yards of American homeowners, where it stood proudly guarding the miraculous moments that families and neighbors shared together: the tending of gardens in the spring; backyard BBQs with children galloping through sprinklers in the summer; the same children jumping into meticulously raked piles of red, yellow, and orange leaves in the fall; and the hanging of twinkling lights over the home and fence in the winter- the White Picket fence stood there as the constant protector of American traditions.
The 1980’s marked a turning point in home construction; neighborhoods became denser, resulting in smaller residential plots. It was during this time that fences were advertised to clearly demarcate property lines and protect children and pets in high-traffic areas. White picket fences faded in popularity as red cedar fences became the standard for home privacy and protection. Yet the timeless aesthetic of the White Picket fence, and the blissful quality it adds to a property’s landscape, secured its ground as a popular specialty fence in gardens and yards around America.
The White Picket Fence As We Know It Today
You’ll still find the traditional wooden White Picket Fence in historically-preserved cottage towns like Martha’s Vineyard; Hyannis, Massachusetts; and even Disney’s Celebration Village. But today, the Picket Fence has evolved to be made of longer lasting, easier to manage materials including wood, hardiplank, and vinyl, creating a new take on an American classic. These new picket fences have become a common yet charming home feature, found in yards and neighborhoods nationwide.
The Icon of the American Dream
Over the years, The White Picket Fence has represented an American family’s achievement of independence and happy living. While they may not be as common today, what started out as a mere set of wooden planks has evolved into something more: a symbol of familial prosperity and peace between neighbors.
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