Shotgun Tracts



This is a portion of a 1858 map of property lines along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The map reminded the author of shotgun houses -long, narrow houses with all the rooms stacked in a line, one behind another. Is there any relation between the two? Maybe the odd property shapes point to the fact that every landowner wants a bit of riverfront. See the entire (enlargable) map at Strange Maps. Link

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Interesting - I was just in Kyoto this summer, where there are old townhouses (machiya) arranged the same way (narrow front, long house), for a similar but somewhat different reason: property taxes were assessed based on street frontage!
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As some people here have mentioned, this is a carryover of the Seigneurial system. It has less to do with access to land than with shipping of commodities. All sites along the river (plantations and agricultural tracts) had waterfront access for loading onto flatboats. The parishes shown on this map are just upriver from New Orleans, where goods would be unloaded for sale. If you look at a current map of Ascension, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Charles Parishes, the division of land has remained relatively unchanged up to now. The similarity with shotgun houses is just coincidence.
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It is a relic of the old French Seigneurial system. The property lines along the St Lawrence River in Quebec are almost identical. Every holder of a Seigneurie had access to the river, some flat farmland and some timberland.
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They did that here in Michigan along the Detroit River. They were called ribbon farms I think.

Here are some people discussing them here:
http://atdetroit.net/forum/messages/6790/91521.html?1180288955
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