A front page Wall Street Journal story today discusses how clotheslines have become a new battle front in America. The environmentally minded are using them in increasing numbers (clothes driers account for 6% of residential energy use).
This is yet another illustration of how status consciousness and years of cheap energy intersect to produce peculiar outcomes. In Australia, by contrast, the rotary clothes hoist is a suburban fixture, although it was always tastefully sited in the back yard:
The rotary clothes hoist and the barbecue have long been recognised as suburban icons; for example on the cover of Australian Popular Culture, in 1979 and in Suburban Icons – a celebration of the everyday, by Steve Bedwell, in 1991. Both the standard clothes hoist and the barbecue came to prominence in the 1950s; but both had existed before then.
Smaller clothes drying racks are popular in Australia and sold even in very upscale home furnishing shops. Similarly, my impression is that clothes drying outdoors would be acceptable in most European countries outside major urban areas.