Mobile Homes: A History

From the 1940s to the 1990s

| July/August 2005

There’s some confusion these days about the politically correct term for houses that began their lives on wheels. Most people call everything from a house ­trailer to a double- or triplewide a “mobile home,” but the industry is trying to put the stigma associated with that phrase behind it. History holds the key to this identity crisis.

1940s: Eight-foot-wide house trailers provide homes for tens of thousands of transient workers and veterans returning from World War II. They’re built without government oversight, and quality varies widely.

Early 1950s: Ten-foot-wide version is dubbed the “mobile home” because it looks less like an aerodynamic car and more like a boxy house.

1960s: Doublewides debut.

1963: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) develops construction standards for mobile homes.

1973: Forty-five states have adopted the ANSI Standard.

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