Tip of the Month - November 2007
Source: HOUSES-3rd Edition by Henry S. Harrison
People are learning how to control their cities and to plan for
the future. Today, zoning is the widely accepted method by which
society, in general, controls the use of the land. Zoning is one
of the means by which society controls the development of the physical
This was not always so. Zoning was unknown in the nineteenth
century, the period in which many cities developed. Up to World
War I, the only protections a property owner and the public had were
the nuisance laws, private restrictions and building codes.
As a result of this lack of control and planning, cities developed with
congested streets, overcrowded buildings, poor light and air and a
mixture of uses, each hurting the other. From this
disorganization, came the deteriorated commercial areas, slums and
urban blight of today.
During the 1700’s and early 1800’s, growth in this country
took place primarily in the uncrowded towns and villages and the farm
areas. Many of the houses that were built were two-story detached
By the middle of the 1800’s, the growth pattern had shifted to
the cities. Streets were lined with row houses and
tenements. Multiple-story, single family houses were lined up
side by side on crowded lots. Streets were laid out in
checkerboard fashion. Little separation existed between
industrial and commercial activities and residential neighborhoods.
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page was updated on 10/30/2007.