Maps and Eichler houses on Zillow and Trulia

Zillow has gotten such glowing reviews of its real estate heat maps (cool blue is cheap; red hot is expensive) that it has made them available for much of the country. It’s fun to browse around at the state level looking for high contrast regions. For instance, you don’t need a realtor’s license to see that Stamford, Connecticut lacks the luster of its neighbors Greenwich and Darien. Be sure and check the little box next to “Heat Map”. The contrast is striking.

But there are some other nifty real estate visualizations out there. Trulia now has a tool for seeing when houses were built. As the slider moves through time, colored spots erupt at each new address. It’s a cool effect, and it got me thinking about places that saw dramatic housing booms. Levittown, Pennsylvania was such a place. Just after World War II it appeared so quickly it was named after developer William C. Levitt. Here’s the Trulia map. Compare this with a place like Newton, Massachusetts (of fig newton fame) that had much steadier growth.

Since I recently posted about my old house in Palo Alto, I was reminded of the many Eichler houses in and around that city. Joseph Eichler was developer with a vision of affordable luxury, and some ten thousand of his iconic Modernist homes sprouted in California during the 1950s. Here’s a brochure from around that time: Enter the Wonderful World of Eichler. This Trulia interface shows the Fairmeadow development just off East Charleston Road in Palo Alto. Dig the crazy circular road plans.

Eichlers went up fast, and they sometimes came down fast too. They were known to local firemen as eight-minute wonders for their ability to burn to the ground in less time than it takes to mix a martini and put some Sinatra on the Hi-Fi. Even so, plenty of them are still around and lovingly cared for by a community of Eichler aficionados. Here’s a nice example straight out of Fairmeadow as seen on Google Maps.