Monday, December 13, 2010

Land Use Time Machine...

Thanks to Emily Talen for sending along this link to a 1960s APA Report entitled "Neighborhood Boundaries".

It's a fascinating read and especially interesting as a tool to compare how land use policy was viewed in 1960 versus how it is viewed today.

From the report:

The concept of the city as a whole, containing a group of component neighborhoods is not new, nor is discussion of neighborhood related problems a recent advent to planners, sociologists, traffic engineers, realtors and others closely involved in the patterns of urban land use. In a paper presented to American City Planning Institute (the forerunner of the American Institute of Planners), Henry Wright said about neighborhood planning:1

The subject bristles with opportunities for research and discussion. Some of the implications are at least disturbing to certain methods of planning and regulation which have been accepted and . . . gained by means of long effort and application and should, therefore, not be lightly tossed aside.

Mr. Wright wrote those words in 1931.

Thirty years later, the subject still "bristles with opportunities for research and discussion."

The main purpose of this report is to gather in a single reference the most important methods of neighborhood delineation and to examine how and to what extent they are used in the field. In attempting to achieve this, the report unavoidably covers controversial areas. The history of discourse and development of the neighborhood concept has not been without differences of opinion, both mild and stormy.


If the origin of the generally conceived neighborhood prototype can be traced to a single source, the credit (or blame), depending on one's point of view, goes to Clarence A. Perry. In a preliminary study in 1926 and in a report published by the Committee on the Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs in 1929,2 Perry enunciated his Neighborhood Theory. Its six basic principles were:

1. Major arterials and traffic routes should not pass through residential neighborhoods. Instead, these streets should provide the boundaries of the neighborhood.

2. Interior street patterns should be designed and constructed through use of cul-de-sacs, curved layout and light duty surfacing so as to encourage a quiet, safe, low volume traffic movement and preservation of the residential atmosphere.

3. The population of the neighborhood should be that which is necessary to support its elementary school. (When Perry formulated his theory, this population was estimated at about 5,000 persons; current elementary school size standards probably would lower the figure to 3,000–4,000 persons.)

4. The neighborhood focal point should be the elementary school centrally located on a common or green, along with other institutions that have service areas coincident with the neighborhood

Chad Emerson, Faulkner.

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