Large and diverse, the United States is home to numerous distinctive architectural styles. Many have grown out of specific cultural, economic or social needs. The shotgun house is a unique style, whose history is interesting and significant in American culture.
Perhaps due to the city's unique immigrant culture, New Orleans is home to a very distinctive architecture. Among other styles, the first shotgun houses were built there.
The assumption is that these houses were rarely built with windows on the sides, since they were very close to the neighboring houses.
Haitian immigrants arrived in New Orleans in the early 1800s, following a political revolution in their home country.
During this period, the houses were built throughout the United States, not just in New Orleans.
The houses allowed for a tightly bonded community, and came to symbolize the efforts of African-Americans to build new lives for themselves following the slavery era.
In the Haitian version, these houses had doors that were centered on the walls. Since the American version's doors were off center, a shotgun blast would probably damage the wall of the front room.
The houses in western Africa were called "shogun," which means "God's house."
These houses might be double width, with doors in the dividing wall, or might be built as a two-family house.
The roofs of such houses hang over the front end, and since these porches came close to the street they became good places to congregate with neighbors.
Due to their low cost and the speed with which they could be built, such kits became popular in boom towns and in cities that had been struck by disasters.