+
upworthy
Joy

Video explains the one reason Americans can't have quaint, walk-up apartments like Europeans do

We want our walkability back.

apartments, urban planning, europe vs. america

Why North American can't build nice apartments.

One of the most beautiful features of old European neighborhoods are the rows of quaint, walk-up apartments that are the backbone of walkable neighborhoods. They help create a community where people can exit their front door and walk to a local café or market without getting in their car.

Unfortunately, these neighborhoods are hard to find in the United States, where these types of apartment buildings are exceedingly rare. Why is that? In the video below, About Here’s founder, Uytae Lee, explains why regulations in North America have made these quaint walk-up apartments, known by architects as point access blocks, nearly impossible to build.

Uytae Lee is an urban planner and videographer passionate about sharing stories about our cities.


“Quaint, walk-up apartments … are a beloved feature in cities around the world,” Lee says in his video entitled “Why North Americans Can’t Have Nice Apartments.” “They’re inviting and full of character. But, here in North America, they are not allowed to be built today. Instead, our departments are big and imposing, often stretching across the entire block and the reason why it really comes down to one reason: staircases.”

Why North America Can't Build Nice Apartments

The problem is that one stairway in a point access block allows access to all apartments. This became a problem in the late 1800s when fires were commonplace in urban areas worldwide and people were more likely to die in a fire with only one exit route. So, in the U.S. and Canada, they created new regulations that made it so all buildings over 2 to 3 stories had to have two staircases to allow them to exit during a fire.

“Staircases take up a lot of space and fitting two of them in a small building means that there is much less usable floor space on every floor,” Lee says in the video. “As a result, developers here construct much larger buildings so that the staircases and hallways take up a much smaller proportion of the overall building. It's why apartments in North America, in general, are much bigger and wider than their European counterparts.”

But there are fires in Europe, too. Why did they stop short of requiring multiple staircases in apartment buildings on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? Instead of changing the floorplans on new buildings, Europeans opted to require fireproof materials in new building construction. A big reason why the U.S. and Canada opted for larger buildings over fireproofing was because they had better access to materials and the new direction aligned with the move towards suburban sprawl.

The two-staircase regulations in the U.S also made it harder to build units greater than one bedroom because the buildings needed long hallways which reduced the number of layout options.

The current housing crisis has many rethinking the regulations that require apartment buildings to have two stairways in North America. Many urban planners believe that modern-day demands mean we should return to building more point access block buildings, but this time with modern fire-retardant materials.

In some cities, such as Seattle, Washington, lawmakers have repealed staircase mandates and begun building point access block housing to ease the crisis.

“Now, if all this makes you a bit nervous, I get it. After all, these codes are about our safety. But I do want to mention that these codes do change over time as our technology and our understanding of safety evolves,” Lee finishes the video. “It’s important that we discuss and update these rules as our world changes.”

A nasty note gets a strong response.

We've all seen it while cruising for spots in a busy parking lot: A person parks their whip in a disabled spot, then they walk out of their car and look totally fine. It's enough to make you want to vomit out of anger, especially because you've been driving around for what feels like a million years trying to find a parking spot.

You're obviously not going to confront them about it because that's all sorts of uncomfortable, so you think of a better, way less ballsy approach: leaving a passive aggressive note on their car's windshield.

Satisfied, you walk back to your car feeling proud of yourself for telling that liar off and even more satisfied as you walk the additional 100 steps to get to the store from your lame parking spot all the way at the back of the lot. But did you ever stop and wonder if you told off the wrong person?

Keep ReadingShow less
SOURCE: TIKTOK

Little secrets to be found.

Today, half of the Internet learned that Jeep vehicles have hidden 'Easter eggs' on them. Apparently, the other half already knew but didn't bother to tell us.

As Joel Feder of Motor Authority explains, Jeep vehicles have had these little surprises since the 90s. Michael Santoro, hired as a designer in 1989, decided to slip an Easter egg into the Wrangler TJ. Since then, pretty much every vehicle has included at least one Easter Egg. According to Mopar Insiders, the Easter eggs can be found on each of the brand's cars.

Not everyone was aware of this fact, though, as a TikTok by jackiefoster40 recently revealed. The user discovered a spider hidden in his fuel tank and decided to share the Easter egg in a video.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

People are baffled to find out they've been burning candles wrong their whole lives

There's an art to avoiding the "memory ring" that makes a candle tunnel around the wick.

The "tunnel" that often forms around a wick isn't supposed to be there.

The evolution of candles from lighting necessity to scented ambience creator is kind of funny. For thousands of years, people relied on candles and oil lamps for light, but with the invention of the light bulb in 1879, fire was no longer needed for light. At that time, people were probably relieved to not have to set something on fire every time they wanted to see in the dark, and now here we are spending tons of money to do it just for funsies.

We love lighting candles for coziness and romance, relishing their warm, soft light as we shrink from the fluorescent bulb craze of the early 2000s. Many people use candles for adding scent to a room, and there are entire candle companies just for this purpose (Yankee Candles, anyone?). As of 2022, candles were an $11 billion business.

With their widespread use, you'd think we'd know a thing or two about candles, but as a thread on X makes clear, a whole bunch of us have been burning candles wrong our entire lives without knowing it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

When these drones zoom in over elephants and rhinos, they stop horrible things from happening.

A shepherd watches over sheep. Watching over elephants and rhinos? Not so easy.

via The Lindbergh Foundation

Drone footage from the Aerial Shepherd.


This is a story about something really exciting.

Before I get into it, let me set the stage by explaining the terrible problem it's solving.

10 years.

That's how long it'll be until the last wild elephants and rhinoceroses are gone.

100 of them are killed every day by poachers.

Even though elephants and rhinos are legally protected, the amount of money that can be made from the ivory in their tusks is just too much for some people to resist.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Long Truong on Unsplash
woman in white sleeveless dress kissing man in blue dress shirt


"It may be the most important thing we do in life; learn how to love and be loved."

At least, that's according to Harvard psychologist and researcher Rick Weissbourd.

He's been collecting data on the sex and love habits of young people for years through surveys, interviews, and even informal conversation — with teens and the important people in their lives.

Through it all, one thing has been abundantly clear:

"We spend enormous amount of attention helping parents prepare their kids for work and school," Weissbourd says. "We do almost nothing to prepare them for the tender, tough, subtle, generous, focused work of developing mature healthy relationships. I'm troubled by that."

Keep ReadingShow less
via Wikimedia Commons

The water bill at the Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis residence appears to be pretty low after recent revelations the couple made about their family's bathing habits.

In a recent appearance on Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast, they admitted they're not that into bathing themselves or their two children, Dimitri Portwood, 4, and Wyatt Isabelle, 6.

Keep ReadingShow less