American homes in the Civil War period varied tremendously. In the North, there were the pre-existing frame and brick houses, while a few Southern families lived in grand plantation houses. Out west, the prairies saw fewer log cabins and more sod houses. The development of balloon-frame housing, a technique to create pre-fabricated houses, made frame houses more affordable for working-class families. In the crowded areas of the cities, many lived in boardinghouses and makeshift shacks and shanties. Apartments were another option for the working poor in the cities of the Northeast. Apartments originated in France, and first appeared in New York and New Orleans a few years before the war.