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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: Historic Residential Suburbs Guidelines for Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service



The basic landscape unit of residential suburban development is the subdivision. The development process starts with a parcel of undeveloped land, often previously used for agricultural purposes, large enough to be subdivided into individual lots for detached, single-family homes and equipped with improvements in the form of streets, drainage, and utilities, such as water, sewer, electricity, gas, and telephone lines. In other suburban neighborhoods, groups of attached dwellings and apartment buildings would be arranged within a large parcel of land and interspersed with common areas used for walkways, gardens, lawns, parking, and playgrounds.

Developers and the Development Process:

Until the early twentieth century, most subdivisions were relatively small, and suburban neighborhoods tended to expand in increments as adjoining parcels of land were subdivided and the existing grid of streets extended outward. Subdivisions were generally planned and designed as a single development, requiring developers to file a plat, or general development plan, with the local governmental authority indicating their plans for improving the land with streets and utilities. Homes were often built by different builders and sometimes the owners themselves.

As metropolitan areas established large public water systems and other public utilities, developers could install utilities at a lower expense and often used enhancements, such as paved roads, street lighting, and public water, to attract buyers. Early planned subdivisions typically included utilities in the form of reservoirs, water towers, and drainage systems designed to follow the natural topography and layout of streets. Power plants and maintenance facilities were also included to support many of the larger planned developments of multiple family dwellings.

Historically the subdivision process has evolved in several overlapping stages and can be traced through the roles of several groups of developers.

Historic view (c. 1940) of Colonial Village, Arlington, Virginia, the first FHA-approved large-scale rental community. Begun in 1935 with financing from the New York Life Insurance Company, it was the first of many such projects by operative builder Gustave Ring which capitalized on the insurance industry's need for secure investments and the loan protection offered under the National Housing Act of 1934. Designed by architects Harvey Warwick and Frances Koenig in the Georgian Revival style, the community was influenced by models of American Garden City planning, particularly Chatham Village and World War I communities, such as Seaside Village and Yorkship. (Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Theodor Horydczak Collection, neg. LC-H814-T-2497-001)
The Subdivider

Beginning in the nineteenth century, the earliest group of developers, called "subdividers," acquired and surveyed the land, developed a plan, laid out building lots and roads, and improved the overall site. The range of site improvements varied but usually included utilities, graded roads, curbs and sidewalks, storm-water drains, tree planting, and graded common areas and house lots. Lots were then sold either to prospective homeowners who would contract with their own builder, to builders buying several parcels at once to construct homes for resale, or to speculators intending to resell the land when real estate values rose. Land improvement companies typically organized to oversee the subdivision of larger parcels, especially those forming new communities along railroad and streetcar lines. Most subdividers, however, operated on a small scale-laying out, improving, and selling lots on only a few subdivisions a year.(29)


The Home Builder

By the turn of the twentieth century, subdividers discovered they could enhance the marketability of their land by building houses on a small number of lots. At a time of widespread real estate speculation and fraud, home building helped convince prospective buyers that the plan on paper would materialize into a suburban neighborhood. Subdividers still competed in the market through the types of improvements they offered, such as graded and paved roads, sidewalks, curbs, tree plantings, and facilities such as railroad depots or streetcar waiting stations. These developers continued to view their business as selling land, not houses, and the realization of subdivision plans took many years.(30)

The Community Builder

The term "community builder" came into use in the first decade of the twentieth century in connection with the city planning movement and the development of large planned residential neighborhoods. Developers of this type were real estate entrepreneurs who acquired large tracts of land that were to be developed according to a master plan, often with the professional expertise of site planners, landscape architects, architects, and engineers. Proximity to schools, shopping centers, country clubs and other recreational facilities, religious structures, and civic centers, as well as the convenience of commuting, became important considerations for planning new neighborhoods and attracting home owners.(31)


Crestwood (1920-1947) was one of many subdivisions developed in Kansas City's Country Club District by J. C. Nichols, one of the Nation's most influential community developers. The high standard of design for which Nichols became known relied upon the use of deed restrictions that were comprehensive and renewable and the collaboration of designers representing different professions. Landscape architects Hare & Hare laid out the streets, designed entry portals, and developed plans for many small parks, while a host of local architects designed spacious "garden homes" in a variety of revival styles. The city's first neighborhood association was founded here in 1922. (Photo by Brad Finch, courtesy Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

Community builders, such as Edward H. Bouton of Baltimore and J. C. Nichols of Kansas City, greatly affected land use policy in the United States, influencing to a large extent the design of the modern residential subdivision. Nichols's reputation was based on the development of the Country Club District in Kansas City-an area that would ultimately house 35,000 residents in 6,000 homes and 160 apartment buildings. Because they operated on a large scale and controlled all aspects of a development, these developers were concerned with long-term planning issues such as transportation and economic development, and extended the realm of suburban development to include well-planned boulevards, civic centers, shopping centers, and parks.(32)

To promote predictability in the land market and protect the value of their real estate investments, community builders became strong advocates of zoning and subdivision regulations. Nichols and other leading members of the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB) sought alliances with the National Conference on City Planning (NCCP), American Civic Association (ACA), and American City Planning Institute (ACPI) to bring the issues of suburban development within the realm of city planning. (33)

Community builders often sought expertise from several design professions, including engineering, landscape architecture, and architecture. As a result, their subdivisions tended to reflect the most up-to-date principles of design; many achieved high artistic quality and conveyed a strong unity of design. By relying on carefully written deed restrictions, as a private form of zoning, they exerted control over the character of their subdivisions, attracted certain kinds of home buyers, and protected real estate values. Many became highly emulated models of suburban life and showcases for period residential design by established local or regional masters. (34)

The Operative Builder

By the 1920s, developers were building more and more homes in the subdivisions they had platted and improved, thereby taking control of the entire operation and phasing construction as money became available. In the 1930s when the home financing industry was restructured, such "operative builders" were able to secure FHA-approved, private financing for the large-scale development of neighborhoods of small single-family houses as well as rental communities offering attached dwellings and apartments. Depression-era economics and the demand for defense-related and veterans' housing which followed encouraged them to apply principles of mass production, standardization, and prefabrication to lower construction costs and increase production time.

The Merchant Builder

Federal incentives for the private construction of housing, for employees in defense production facilities during World War II and for returning veterans immediately following the War, fostered dramatic changes in home building practices. Builders began to apply the principles of mass production, standardization, and pre-fabrication to house construction on a large scale. Builders like Fritz B. Burns and Fred W. Marlow of California began to build communities of an unprecedented size, such as Westchester in southeast Los Angeles, where more than 2,300 homes were built to FHA standards between 1941 and 1944 (35)

By greatly increasing the credit available to private builders and liberalizing the terms of FHA-approved home mortgages, the 1948 Amendments to the National Housing Act provided ideal conditions for the emergence of large-scale corporate builders, called "merchant builders." Because of readily available financing, streamlined methods of construction, and an unprecedented demand for housing, these builders acquired large tracts of land, laid out neighborhoods according to FHA principles, and rapidly constructed large numbers of homes. Since completed homes sold quickly, developers could finance new phases of construction and, as neighborhoods neared completion, move on to new locations.

  On Long Island, William Levitt began building rental houses for veterans in 1947. Soon after he shifted to home sales and perfected the process of on-site mass production which became the basis for the large-scale "Levittowns" he created in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Outside Chicago, Philip Kluztnick, former administrator of the National Housing Agency, with the expertise of town planner Elbert Peets, created the town of Park Forest. In 1949 Fritz B. Burns and Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser Community Homes built 1,529 single-family homes at Panorama City in California, a suburban community which resulted from the collaboration of Kaiser's industrial engineers and the Los Angeles architectural firm of Wurdeman and Becket. In the late 1940s, Joseph Eichler began the first of his forward looking subdivisions of contemporary homes in California.(36)

Merchant builders greatly influenced the character of the post-World War II metropolis. The idea of selling both a home and a lifestyle was not simply a marketing ploy by developers to ensure sales, it represented the integration of the suburban ideals of home ownership and community in a single real estate transaction. For many, this meant the attainment of middle-class status, financial prosperity, and family stability-the fulfillment of the American dream.

Financing Suburban Residential Development:

Early Trends

Until the mid-twentieth century, home ownership was costly and beyond the reach of most Americans. In the nineteenth century, most well-established families purchased their homes outright. By the early twentieth century, several organizations were making home ownership possible for many moderate-income families by offering installment plans that required a small down payment and modest monthly payments. These included building and loan associations, real estate developers, such as Chicago's Samuel Gross, and even companies, such as Sears & Roebuck, which were in the business of selling mail order houses.

In the 1920s, it was common practice for home owners to secure short-term loans requiring annual or semi-annual interest payments and a balloon payment of the principal after three to five years. This meant that home owners needed to refinance periodically and often carried second and third mortgages. This system worked well during times of prosperity, but during a period of economic downturn and declining real estate values, it was disastrous.(37)

Beginning in the early 1930s, a series of Federal laws dramatically expanded the financing available for the purchase of owner-occupied dwellings and stimulated private investment in the home building industry through the construction of suburban subdivisions and rental apartment villages. The program of Federal home mortgage insurance, established under the National Housing Act of 1934, set the stage for the emergence of large operative builders, and after World War II, merchant builders.

Figure 2. Federal Laws and Programs Encouraging Home Ownership
1932 Federal Home Loan Bank Act (47 Stat. 725) establishes home loan bank system authorizing advances secured by home mortgages to member institutions.
1933 Home Owners' Loan Act (48 Stat. 129) establishes Home Owners' Loan Corporation, an emergency program (1933-36) introducing the concept of low-interest, long-term, self-amortizing loans and enabling home owners to refinance mortgages with five percent, 15-year amortizing loans.
1934 National Housing Act (48 Stat. 1246) creates Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to establish national standards for the home building industry and authorizes Federal insurance for privately-financed mortgages for homes, housing subdivisions, and rental housing. First FHA mortgages require a 20 percent down payment and monthly payments amortized over 20 years.
1938 Amendments to the National Housing Act (52 Stat. 8) allow Federal mortgage insurance on as much as 90 percent of home's value and extend payments up to 25 years (Title II). Law authorizes the creation of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) to buy and sell mortgages under the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
1941 Amendments to the National Housing Act (55 Stat. 31) adds Title VI, creating a program of Defense Housing Insurance targeting the construction of housing in areas designated critical for defense and defense production.
1942 Federal defense housing and home loan programs consolidated in the National Housing Agency under Executive Order 9070.
1944 Servicemen's Readjustment Act (58 Stat. 291), commonly known as the "GI Bill," authorized Veteran's Administration to provide loan guarantees for home mortgages for World War II veterans.
1946 Veterans' Emergency Housing Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 215) authorizes Federal assistance in housing returning veterans and extends FHA authority to insure mortgages under Title VI.
1947 National Housing Agency renamed Housing and Home Finance Agency (61 Stat. 954).
1948 Housing Act of 1948 (62 Stat. 1276) liberalizes FHA mortgage terms by allowing insurance on up to 95 percent of a home's value and loan payment periods extending as much as 30 years (Section 203). Also adds Section 611 to Title VI of the National Housing Act to encourage the use of cost-reduction techniques through large-scale modernized site construction of housing.
1949 Federal Housing Act of 1949 (63 Stat. 413) establishes a national housing directive to provide Federal aid to assist in community development, slum clearance, and redevelopment programs.
1954 Housing Act of 1954 (68 Stat. 590) provides comprehensive planning assistance under Section 701.

President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership

President Herbert Hoover drew attention to housing as a national priority, especially in the aftermath of the stock market crash in 1929 when the growth of the home building industry came to an abrupt halt and the rate of mortgage foreclosures quickly accelerated. In December 1931, he convened the President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership to examine all aspects of the housing industry. The conference attracted several thousand participants, including many of the Nation's experts in home financing, community planning, house design, and zoning.

The conference was forward looking in seeking solutions for lowering construction costs, for modernizing houses for comfort and efficiency, and for stabilizing real estate values. Conference committees strongly endorsed advances in zoning, construction, community planning, and house design. Of prime concern, however, was broadening home ownership and creating a system of home mortgage credit that provided better protection for both home owners and lending institutions.(38)

Federal Home Loan Banking System

As an initial remedy, the Federal Home Loan Bank Act of July 22, 1932, created the Federal home loan bank system by establishing a credit reserve and authorizing member institutions, primarily savings and loan associations, to receive credit secured by first mortgages. This was an important and lasting step in organizing the system of mortgage financing that remains in place today. Legislation in 1938 created the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as "Fannie Mae," to buy and sell mortgages from member institutions, making additional money available for home mortgages.(39)

Home Owners' Loan Corporation

When the Roosevelt Administration began in 1933, home foreclosures were occurring at a rate of 1,000 per day. Through the emergency Home Owners' Loan Corporation, established by law June 13, 1933, the Federal government forestalled the avalanche of foreclosures and began to stabilize real estate values. For the first time, home owners were able to secure home loans that were fully amortized over the length of the loan-in this case 15 years at five percent rate of interest. Although the short-lived program lasted only three years, it was considered a success economically and set an important precedent for the use of long-term, low-interest amortized home mortgages, which would a year later become the foundation of the FHA mortgage insurance program.(40)

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

The creation of a permanent, national program of mutual mortgage insurance, under Title II of the National Housing Act of 1934 signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 27, 1934, revolutionized home financing and set in motion a series of events that effectively broadened home ownership. The FHA was authorized to provide Federal insurance for privately-financed mortgages for homes, housing subdivisions, and rental housing. Through the development of standards, as well as its review and approval of properties for mortgage insurance, the FHA institutionalized principles for both neighborhood planning and small house design.

The Federal government insured loans granted by private lending institutions for as much as 80 percent of a property's value. Mortgages were to be fully amortized through monthly payments extending over 20 years. Interest rates were to be relatively low, not exceeding six percent at the time, and required down payments were set at 20 percent of the cost of a home. Amendments to the Act in 1938 allowed Federal mortgage insurance on as much as 90 percent of a home's value and extended payments up to 25 years. The Housing Act of 1948 further liberalized FHA mortgage terms by allowing insurance on as much as 95 percent of a home's value and extending the period of repayment up to 30 years.(41)

Defense Housing Programs

The addition of Title VI to the National Housing Act on March 28, 1941, created a program of Defense Housing Insurance, targeting rental housing in areas designated critical for defense and defense production. This was continued to provide veterans' housing after the War and eventually enabled operative builders to secure Federal mortgage insurance on as much as 90 percent of their project costs. The FHA and other World War II housing programs, including the Defense Homes Corporation, financed through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and public housing projects, funded under the Lanham Act (54 Stat. 1125), were consolidated in the National Housing Agency in 1942, which was renamed the Housing and Home Finance Agency in 1947.(42)

The "GI" Bill

Under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly called the "G.I. Bill of Rights," the Veterans Administration (VA) provided guarantees on home mortgages for veterans returning from military service. The liberalized terms of FHA-approved loans enabled veterans to use their "GI" benefit in place of cash, thereby eliminating the down payment on a new house altogether.


Planning and Domestic Land Use:

Beginning in the 1890s, the City Beautiful movement sparked renewed interest in the formal principles of Renaissance and Baroque planning, especially in the design of downtown civic centers and planned industrial towns. The Columbian Exposition of 1893 demonstrated the value of a comprehensive planning process that called for the development of a master plan and the collaboration of public officials and designers representing several professions. The writings of Charles Mulford Robinson and the example of Daniel Burnham's Chicago Plan (1909) stimulated interest in city improvements and offered models for imposing a rational and orderly design upon the Nation's growing industrial cities.(43)

Calling for a synthesis of aesthetics and functionalism, the City Beautiful movement gained momentum in the early twentieth century, becoming inseparable from the broader movement for efficiency, civic improvements, and social reform that marked the Progressive era. The movement exerted considerable influence beyond the center city, principally in the form of extensive boulevard and parkway systems, public parks and playgrounds, public water systems, and other utilities. In many cities, these measures established an infrastructure that would support and foster suburban development for decades to come.

Concerned with metropolitan growth, city planners became advocates for a coordinated planning process that embraced transportation systems, public utilities, and zoning measures to restrict land use. Dialogue took place among community builders, who made up the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB) and typically relied on deed restrictions to control land use, and planners in organizations such as the American Civic Association (ACA), American City Planning Institute (ACPI), and National Conference on City Planning (NCCP). Together these groups promoted local zoning and comprehensive planning measures, and encouraged the development of residential suburbs according to established professional principles of landscape architecture and community planning.

Deed Restrictions

Early land developers maintained control over the development of their subdivisions through the use of deed restrictions. The placement of restrictions on the deed of sale ensured that land was developed according to the original intent; it also protected real estate values for both home owners and the subdivider, who expected to sell improved lots over the course of many years. According to Marc Weiss, restrictions "legitimized the idea that private owners should surrender some of their individual property rights for the common good" and became the "principal vehicle by which subdividers and technicians tested and refined the methods of modern land use planning." Restrictions were attached to the sale of land and considered binding for a specified period of time, after which they could be renewed or terminated. Restrictions were enforceable through civil law suits filed by the developer or other property owners.(44)


Streetscape of early Tudor Revival homes in the Shaker Village Historic District (1919-1950), Shaker Heights, Ohio. Covering almost 3000 acres and including more than 4500 contributing resources, the district retains the cohesive architectural character envisioned by original developers Oris P. and Mantis J. van Sweringen. Set forth in the Shaker Village Standards and enforced through deed restrictions, special design principles required that homes be professionally designed and adhere to one of four architectural styles, a uniform setback from the street, and a minimum cost of construction. (Photo by Patricia J. Forgac, courtesy Ohio Historic Preservation Office)

Deed restrictions were used to establish neighborhood character by controlling the size of building lots and dictate the design and location of houses. With the advice of Olmsted and Vaux about 1870, the Riverside Improvement Company introduced guidelines requiring a mandatory 30-foot setback and setting a minimum cost of construction. In the exclusive neighborhoods of St. Louis, called "private places," deed restrictions set a minimum cost on dwellings to be built and established mandatory setbacks to ensure that the neighborhood assumed a cohesive and dignified character. Developer Edward H. Bouton's Roland Park (1891), in Baltimore, Maryland, became recognized as one of the Nation's most successful residential developments in large part due to an extensive set of deed restrictions that controlled numerous aspects of design and land use, including lot sizes, building lines, setbacks, minimum dwelling values, and requirements for owner residency.(45)

The use of such private restrictions was upheld at the 1916 meeting of the NCCP by leading representatives of several professions, including Kansas City community builder J. C. Nichols, city planner John Nolen, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. During the 1920s, deed restrictions became the hallmark of a range of planned residential communities, fashioned as country club or garden suburbs, that were attracting an increasing professional and rising middle class of American cities.(46)

In 1928 the Institute for Research in Land Economics and Public Utilities in Chicago published Helen C. Monchow's Use of Deed Restrictions in Subdivision Development, which set forth a comprehensive list of items to be included in deed restrictions, including design factors such as the height of buildings and lot frontage as well as limitations on occupancy and commercial activities. The Committee on Subdivision Layout at the 1931 President's Conference adapted Monchow's list in its recommendations and endorsed deed restrictions-the principal means for ensuring neighborhood stability, maintaining real estate values, and protecting residential neighborhoods from non-conforming industrial or commercial activities-especially in jurisdictions lacking zoning ordinances. The idea that deed restrictions were the foundation of good subdivision design was underscored by the committee's membership, which included preeminent designers John Nolen, Henry Hubbard, and Henry Wright, and was chaired by Harland Bartholomew, an urban planner and theorist renowned for work in St. Louis and Des Moines.(47)

Within the context of worsening economic conditions, developers and community builders alike examined the use of such deed restrictions in creating pleasing neighborhoods of moderate priced homes under the new FHA programs. Real estate practices and the rating system used to approve suburban neighborhoods for FHA-insured loans encouraged the use of restrictions in the 1930s and 1940s as a safeguard for maintaining neighborhood stability and property values. The Urban Land Institute's Community Builder's Handbook, first published in 1947, advocated deed restrictions, including ones establishing design review committees, to ensure that neighborhoods were maintained in harmony and conformity with the original design intent.

By mid-century the use of deed restrictions to qualify prospective home owners and residents based on factors, such as race, ethnicity, and religion, became challenged in American courts. In the landmark decision, Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court determined such restrictions based on race "unenforceable," providing a legal foundation for the principle of equal access to housing and influencing changes in Federal housing policy.(48)

Zoning Ordinances and Subdivision Regulations

Local governments began to impose zoning ordinances in the early twentieth century as a means of controlling land use and ensuring the health, welfare, and safety of the American public. In 1909 Los Angeles passed the first zoning ordinance, creating separate districts or "zones" for residential and industrial land uses. In 1916 New York City was among the first to impose regulations on the height and mass of buildings through local legislation.

In support of the Better Homes movement following World War I, the U.S. Department of Commerce joined private advocacy groups, such the NCCP, ACA, and ACPI, in encouraging local legislation for zoning. The Department began publishing an annual report, Zoning Progress in the United States, and a series of manuals including A Zoning Primer (1922), A City Planning Primer (1928), The Preparation of Zoning Ordinances (1931), and Model Subdivision Regulations (1932). In 1924 the Department's Advisory Committee on Zoning issued a model zoning enabling act for State governments. By 1926 zoning ordinances had been adopted by more than 76 cities, and by 1936, 85 percent of American cities had adopted zoning ordinances.(49)

Zoning proposals faced opposition and legal challenges in many localities. In the 1926 case, Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co. (272 U.S. 365), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of zoning in which exclusively residential development of single-family houses was supported as the most inviolate of land uses.(50)

The 1931 President's Conference upheld zoning regulations and comprehensive planning measures as the primary means for controlling metropolitan growth and as an essential factor in designing and regulating stable residential neighborhoods. This was primarily the work of the Committee on City Planning and Zoning, under the leadership of Frederic A. Delano who had previously chaired the committee for New York's Regional Plan, which concluded that zoning provisions should promote a sense of community and that residential development throughout the metropolitan region should be organized in neighborhood units based on Clarence Perry's model.(51)

Comprehensive Planning and Regional Plans

Comprehensive planning, coupled with zoning and subdivision regulations, became the focal point of discussions between the Nation's leading community builders and urban planners beginning in 1912. Organizations such as the ACPI, NCCP, and ACA brought planners, builders, and real estate interests together to promote controls over land use in the Nation's growing metropolitan areas.

A joint statement of the NAREB and ACPI in 1927 led to the U.S. Department of Commerce's issuance of a model statute, A Standard City Planning Act, to encourage State governments to pass legislation enabling local and metropolitan land-use planning. California became a leader in real estate and planning reform, establishing the Nation's first State planning statute and enabling subdivision regulations by local ordinance in the late 1920s.(52)

Regional planning commissions and associations began to form in burgeoning metropolitan areas such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, for the purpose of planning and coordinating metropolitan growth and developing regional plans. Planning documents such as the multiple volume Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs reflected some of the most advanced thinking of the time and addressed a variety of suburban issues such as neighborhood planning, commercial and industrial zoning, recreation, and transportation. Plans would receive substantial attention at the 1931 President's Conference, and would have far-reaching influence on the development of FHA standards for the design of residential suburbs.(53)


Beyond transportation, an important set of "push and pull" factors motivated families in the mid-nineteenth century to establish their home in the "borderland" outside the city. First was the "push" factor: as American cities rapidly industrialized, they became increasingly crowded and congested places perceived to be dangerous and unhealthy. Creating a "pull" factor, domestic reformers, such as Catharine Beecher and Andrew Jackson Downing, provided a strong antidote for urban living by extolling the moral virtues of country living and domestic economy. The Romantic landscape movement, often called the Picturesque, provided a compelling image of life in a semi-rural village where dwellings in a host of romantic revival styles blended into a horticulturally rich, naturalistic landscape. In such an environment, the home became a sanctuary from the evils and stresses of life in the city and a proper setting for the practice of democratic ideals.(54)

In the Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841), Downing provided extensive instructions on the location, layout, and planting of rural homes. For an American audience, Downing reinterpreted the principles of the English landscape gardening tradition of Humphry Repton and Capability Brown and the writings of English theorist John Claudius Loudon. He introduced readers to the principles of variety, unity, and harmony, which could be applied to the naturalistic design of home grounds that attained an aesthetic ideal characterized as "picturesque" or "beautiful."(55)

In coming decades, Downing's ideas would transform the American countryside and attract many followers who would give material form to the suburban ideal. Naturalistic gardening principles espoused by Downing, Robert Morris Copeland, H.W.S. Cleaveland, Maximilian G. Kern, Jacob Weidenmann, and others left their imprint in a variety of subdivision types from gridiron plats to planned curvilinear suburbs.(56)

In the 1890s advances in city planning associated with the City Beautiful movement began to influence both the location and design of residential subdivisions. While the expansion of streetcar lines fostered widespread suburban development, park and parkway systems in many cities became a magnet for upper middle-income neighborhoods. Nineteenth-century influences of informal, naturalistic landscape design gave way to more formal plans based on the Beaux Arts principles of Renaissance and Baroque design, often mirroring the form of planned towns and cities.

In the years preceding and following World War I, American landscape traditions fused with English Garden City influences to form distinctive American garden suburbs with gently curving, tree lined streets; open landscaped lawns and gardens; and attractive homes in a panoply of styles. While American designers looked to the historic precedents offered by the European continent for inspiration, the residential communities they fashioned were unequivocally American in the treatment of open space, accommodation of the automobile, the entrepreneurship of real estate developers, and reliance on American industry to make housing functional yet aesthetically appealing.

By the end of the 1930s, the American automobile suburb of small, moderately priced homes along curving tree lined streets and cul-de-sacs had taken form. Reflecting a synthesis of design influences that spanned a century, it was the product of the 1931 President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership and the institutionalization of FHA housing standards among the Nation's home builders and home mortgage lenders. It provided the template for the quintessential suburb that in the years following World War II would come to typify the American experience.



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Figure 3. Trends in Suburban Land Development and Subdivision Design
1819 Early rectilinear suburb developed at Brooklyn Heights, New York.
1851 Early curvilinear suburb platted at Glendale, Ohio.
1853 First village improvement society founded at Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
1857-59 Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, platted outside New York City.
1858 First urban park in U. S., Central Park, developed in New York City by Olmsted and Vaux.
1869 Riverside, outside Chicago, platted by Olmsted and Vaux, establishes ideal model of the Picturesque curvilinear suburb.
1869-71 Garden City, Hempstead, Long Island, platted by Alexander Turney Stewart.
1876-92 Sudbury Park, Maryland, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
1889 Camillo Sitte (Austria), author of Der Stadtebau, calls attention to the informal character of Medieval towns, as a model for village design.
1891-1914 Roland Park, Baltimore, developed by Edward H. Bouton, designed by the Olmsted firm using extensive deed restrictions and featuring cul-de-sacs.
1893 Columbian World's Exposition, Chicago, introduction of comprehensive planning and City Beautiful movement
1898 Ebenezer Howard, Garden City diagram published in Tomorrow (republished as Garden Cities of Tomorrow, 1902).
1902-05 Garden cities of Letchworth (1902) and Hampstead Gardens (1905), England, designed by Parker and Unwin, introducing cul-de-sacs, superblock planning, open-court clustering, and other Garden City features.
1902 Improvement of Towns and Cities by Charles Mulford Robinson calls for civic improvements such as roads, site planning, playgrounds and parks, street plantings, paving, lighting, and sanitation.
1904 American Civic Association (ACA) formed by the merging of the American League for Civic Improvement and American Park and Outdoor Art Association.
1907-50s Country Club District, Kansas City, developed by community builder J. C. Nichols, with landscape architectural firm of Hare and Hare.
1909 Los Angeles passes first zoning ordinance creating separate districts or zones for residential land use.
1909 Raymond Unwin's Town Planning in Practice published, adopted in England and United States.
1909-11 Forest Hills Gardens developed by Russell Sage Foundation, with architect Grosvenor Atterbury, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
1909 National Conference on City Planning (NCCP) founded; First National Conference on City Planning and Problems of Congestion convened.
1911-29 Shaker Village, near Cleveland, Ohio, by the van Sweringen Brothers.
1916 New York City establishes zoning ordinance.
1917 American City Planning Institute (ACPI) founded, renamed the American Institute of Planners (1938).



Figure 3. Trends in Suburban Land Development and Subdivision Design
1918-19 World War I emergency housing programs under United States Housing Corporation (U.S. Department of Labor) and Emergency Fleet Housing Corporation (U.S. Shipping Board).
1921 John Nolen makes the first plan for the Garden City at Mariemont, Ohio.
1922 Publication of The American Vitruvius: An Architect's Handbook of Civic Art by Werner Hegemann and Elbert Peets.
1923 U.S. Division of Building and Housing (U.S. Department of Commerce) issues model zoning enabling act for State governments.

1923 Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA) founded.

1924 Sunnyside Gardens, New York City, designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright of RPAA for the City Housing Corporation.

Standard State Zoning Enabling Act published by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover's Advisory Committee on Zoning.

1926 U.S. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of zoning (Village of Euclid, Ohio, v. Ambler Realty Company, 272 U.S. 365, 1926).
1927 Publication of John Nolen's New Towns for Old: Achievements in Civic Improvement in Some American Small Towns and Neighborhoods.
1928 Standard City Planning Enabling Act published by U.S. Department of Commerce's Advisory Committee on City Planning and Zoning following 1927 joint resolution by ACPI and NAREB. Helen C. Monchow's The Use of Deed Restrictions in Subdivision Development published by Institute for Research in Land Economics.
1928 Radburn, New Jersey, designed as a "Town for the Motor Age" by RPAA-planners Clarence Stein and Henry Wright.
1929 Clarence Perry's Neighborhood Unit plan published in volume 7 of the Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs.
1929 Wall Street Crash, Great Depression follows.
1931 President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership convened; Neighborhoods of Small House Design by Robert Whitten and Thomas Adams published.
1932 U.S. Department of Commerce publishes Model Subdivision Regulations.
1932-36 Chatham Village, Pittsburgh, developed by Buhl Foundation, providing a model for Garden City planning incorporating superblock and connected dwellings.
1934 The Design of Residential Areas by Thomas Adams published.
1935 First phase of construction begins at Colonial Village, Arlington, Virginia, the first privately financed, large-scale rental housing community insured by the FHA under Section 207 of the National Housing Act of 1934.
1935-38 Resettlement Administration establishes greenbelt communities at Greenbelt, Maryland; Greenhills, Ohio; Greendale, Wisconsin; and Greenbrook, New Jersey (never executed).




Figure 3. Continued
Trends in Suburban Land Development and Subdivision Design

1936 FHA publishes Planning Neighborhoods for Small Houses, with the first standards for the design of neighborhoods of small houses, encouraging patterns of curvilinear streets, cul-de-sacs for safety and economy, and neighborhood character.

Urban Land Institute founded (independent nonprofit research organization).

1939 Early large-scale FHA-approved neighborhoods of single-family dwellings developed, including Edgemore Terrace, Wilmington, Delaware, and Arlington Forest, Arlington, Virginia.

1941 Developer Fritz Burns begins Westchester, Los Angeles, using FHA mortgage insurance for housing defense workers under Title VI of National Housing Act, as amended.
1942 Establishment of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Home Builders and Subdividers Division split from NAREB.
1946-47 Former NHA administrator Phillip Klutznick, and town planner Elbert Peets, begin planning of Park Forest, Illinois; and William Levitt begins development of the first Levittown on Long Island.
1947 Urban Land Institute publishes first edition of Community Builder's Handbook.
1948 United States Supreme Court rules that covenants based on race to be "unenforceable" and "contrary to public process" (Shelley v. Kraemer 334 U.S.1).
1949 Joseph Eichler develops his first tract of modern housing at Sunnyvale, California.
1951 Publication in England of Toward New Towns by Clarence S. Stein.
1961 Innovative proposal for 260-home subdivision published in Arts & Architecture's Case Study Series.


Rows of bungalows characterize the rectilinear grid of the Santa Fe Place Historic District (1897-1925) in Kansas City, Missouri. Low in profile and structurally simple, the bungalow with an open floor plan and prominent porch, replaced the ornate Victorian suburban home, giving rise in the first decades of the twentieth century to the ubiquitous "bungalow suburbs" of many midwestern cities. (Photo by Patricia Brown Glenn, courtesy Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

Gridiron Plats:

In the United States, the gridiron city plan provided the most profitable means to develop and sell land for residential use. Most American cities laid out in the second half of the nineteenth century were platted in extensive grids. These gridiron plats would guide their future growth, many following the rectilinear land surveys called for by the Northwest Ordinance and the Homestead Act.(57)

The introduction of the streetcar in many cities extended the opportunity for home ownership in suburban neighborhoods to middle- and working-class households by the end of the nineteenth century. Streetcar lines helped form the initial transportation system, overlaying the grid plan of streets and creating a checkerboard of major arterial routes. The gridiron remained the most efficient and inexpensive way to subdivide and sell land in small lots. Many cities extended outward between 1890 and 1920, fulfilling the demand for low-cost houses and providing the template for what has been named the "bungalow suburb."(58)

A similar pattern occurred in the cities laid out after the introduction of the mass produced automobile. In the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, development after 1940 took place on a grid of arterial and collector streets that conformed to the section lines of the rectilinear survey; the grid, measuring one square mile, was further subdivided to allow more intensive development.(59)

Gridiron plats received serious criticism in the twentieth century for several reasons: the uniformity of housing, lack of fresh air and sunlight afforded by their narrow lots, the lack of adequate recreational space, and the speculative nature of home building they fostered. Planners and landscape architects looked first to nineteenth-century Picturesque principles of design and later more formal designs with radial curves as an antidote to the endless monotonous grid of American cities.

Planned Rectilinear Suburbs:

The idea for a residential suburb-set apart from center city and accessible by some form of horse-drawn or mechanized transportation-is believed to have originated in the early nineteenth century. These contrasted to urban enclaves with enclosed private gardens, such as Boston's Louisburg Square, or residential streets arranged around public squares, such as the Colonial-period plan for Savannah, Georgia, which were within walking distance of the center city.


Plan (1887) of Forest Park Addition, the largest and most elaborate of St. Louis's "private places," was the collaborative design of engineer Julius Pitzman and the city's former park superintendent Maximilian G. Kern, who was also the influential author of Rural Taste in Western Towns and Country Districts (1884). (Lithograph by Gast, courtesy Missouri Historical Society, neg. 21508)

One of the earliest documented residential suburbs is Brooklyn Heights, established in 1819 across the East River from lower Manhattan. Accessible by ferry, the suburb featured a 60-acre plat laid out in a grid with streets 50 feet in width and blocks measuring 200 by 200 feet.(60)

In 1869, merchant and philanthropist Alexander Turney Stewart purchased a 500-acre parcel of land on Long Island for the purpose of creating a model planned city, "Garden City," which was to be connected to Brooklyn and New York City by a private commuter railroad. Engineer Delameter S. Denton developed a plan subdividing the tract into uniform building lots along two parallel streets, and architect John Kellum designed several model homes in picturesque revival styles. Thousands of mature shade trees were planted along the streets, and 15 miles of picket fences were constructed to give the new community the character of a small village.(61)

In the Midwest, landscape designer and park planner, Maximilian G. Kern exerted considerable influence on the landscape design and embellishment of neighborhoods based on the rectilinear grid. Kern's Rural Taste in Western Towns and Country Districts (1884) offered developers advice on improving the design of residential streets and public spaces while working within the ubiquitous grid of western town planning. With civil engineer Julius Pitzman, Kern designed Forest Park Addition (1887) in St. Louis, a residential subdivision featuring private streets and long landscaped medians, which became a model for the city's exclusive neighborhoods known as "private places."(62)

Highly influential was the modified gridiron plan used by community builder J. C. Nichols in developing the Country Club District in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas. Developed as a garden suburb between 1907 and the early 1950s, the District's many residential subdivisions formed a grid of long, narrow rectangular blocks interspersed by an occasional curvilinear or diagonal avenue or boulevard. The landscape architecture firm of Hare and Hare, working for Nichols over a 20-year period beginning in 1913, modified the rectilinear grid so that many of the roads running east to west followed the contours of the rolling topography rather than the straight, parallel lines drawn by the land surveyor. Departure from the grid enabled the designers to create triangular islands at the site of intersecting roads which were developed as small parks and gardens.(63)

Early Picturesque Suburbs:

The Picturesque suburb with its plat of curvilinear streets and roads, the product of the Romantic landscape movement, became the means by which upper-income city dwellers sought to satisfy their aspiration for a suburban home within commuting distance of the city. Although Downing's books focused on the landscape design of individual homes in a rural or semi-rural setting, his ideas for the curvilinear design of suburban villages appeared in his essays, "Hints to Rural Improvements" (1848) and "Our Country Villages" (1850) which were published in the Horticulturalist.(64)

Early Picturesque, curvilinear suburbs, such as Glendale (1851), Ohio, drew from the Picturesque theories of Downing and Loudon as well as the Rural Cemetery movement, which followed the example set in 1831 by Mount Auburn Cemetery outside Boston. By mid-century, rural cemeteries exhibiting curvilinear roadways, naturalistic landscape gardening, and irregular lot divisions that followed the natural topography were appearing outside most major U.S. cities. On a larger scale, early subdivisions reflected similar principles of design, creating a naturalistic, parklike environment for domestic life.(65)

The most influential of the early Picturesque suburbs was Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, located west of New York City, and platted in 1857 by Llewellyn Haskell. Haskell carried out his idea for a protected, gated country park with the advice of Downing's former partner Alexander Jackson Davis and landscape architects Eugene A. Baumann and Howard Daniels. The design featured a layout of curvilinear roads and a common natural park, called the "ramble," and was influenced in large part by Downing's writings and Olmsted and Vaux's plans for Central Park, which was taking form in nearby New York City. Illustrated and described in Henry Winthrop Sargent's supplement to the Sixth Edition of Downing's Theory and Practice (1859), Llewellyn Park became one of the best known and most highly emulated examples of suburban design.(66)



[photo] 1869 Plan (above) for Riverside, Illinois, by Olmsted, Vaux and Company with present day streetscape. Riverside is considered the archetypal example of the American curvilinear planned suburb. Along the broad, gently curving streets, houses on spacious facing lots were offset and informal groupings of shrubs and trees furnished to provide privacy and create an informal, pastoral setting. (Plan courtesy Frederick Law Olmsted National Historical Site; photo courtesy National Historic Landmarks Survey)

Riverside and the Olmsted Ideal:

Riverside, Illinois, outside Chicago, platted by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1869 for the Riverside Improvement Company, further articulated the ideal for the Picturesque suburb, earning a reputation as the archetypal example of the curvilinear American planned suburb. Located on the banks of the Des Plaines River along the route of the Burlington Railroad, Riverside is recognized as the first clearly documented example in the United States where the principles of landscape architecture were applied to the subdivision and development of real estate.(67)

Olmsted's plan provided urban amenities and homes that, built at a comfortable density, afforded privacy in a naturalistic parklike setting. The first design requirement was a tranquil site with mature trees, broad lawns, and some variation in the topography. The second was good roads and walks laid out in gracefully curved lines to "suggest leisure, contemplativeness, and happy tranquility," and the third was the subdivision of lots in irregular shapes. Designed to follow the topography, the curving roads were built without curbs and placed in slight depressions, making them less visible from the individual lots and enhancing the community's pastoral character.(68)

Riverside established the ideal for the spacious, curvilinear subdivision which would be emulated by developers, planners, and home owners for generations to come. Between 1857 and 1950, Olmsted's practice, which was continued by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and John Charles Olmsted under the Olmsted Brothers firm, planned 450 subdivisions in 29 States and the District of Columbia, many of them in conjunction with park or parkway systems.(69)

By the early twentieth century, Olmsted's principles had become the basis for laying out suburban neighborhoods within the emerging professional practice of landscape architecture in the United States. Olmsted had many followers including, Ernest Bowditch, Stephen Child, Herbert and Sidney Hare, Henry V. Hubbard, George E. Kessler, and Samuel Parsons, Jr. Parsons and Hubbard became highly influential through their writings, which provided instructions in keeping with the Olmsted principles of subdivision design. Parsons, who was the superintendent of New York's Central Park for many years and the designer of the Albemarle Park subdivision in Asheville, North Carolina, provided detailed instructions on laying out home grounds and siting houses along steep, hillside slopes in How to Plan the Homegrounds (1899) and The Art of Landscape Architecture (1915).(70)

First published in 1917 and used as the standard professional text into the 1950s, the Introduction to the Study of Landscape Design by Hubbard and Theodora Kimball, influenced several generations of landscape architects. To demonstrate the layout of subdivisions to follow a site's natural topography, the text illustrated the example of Moss Hill, a subdivision Hubbard and his partner James Sturgis Pray designed in the western suburbs of Boston that was connected to the center city by Olmsted's "Emerald Necklace" of parks and parkways. In a 1928 article in Landscape Architecture on the influence of topography on land subdivision, Hubbard showed his readers how a curvilinear plan could be fit to varying slopes and subdivided into small, regularly shaped lots.(71)

The 1930s brought renewed interest in Olmsted's principles after Landscape Architecture reprinted Olmsted and Vaux's Preliminary Report upon the Proposed Suburban Village at Riverside (1868) and several other selections from the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted. Several months later in a well-illustrated article, "Riverside Sixty Years Later," Howard K. Menhinick praised the village atmosphere, beauty of the mature plantings, and unified setting created by spacious lots, planting strips, and numerous parks. In the Design of Residential Areas (1934), prominent city planner Thomas Adams recognized Riverside as a leading example of American suburban design. The example of Riverside and later advances in curvilinear subdivision design would be applied to neighborhoods of small homes by the FHA in the mid-1930s and the community building standards of the Urban Land Institute in the 1940s and 1950s.(72)

City Beautiful Influences:

A movement for the design of cohesive suburban neighborhoods in the form of residential parks and garden suburbs began to emerge in the 1890s and continued into the early decades of the twentieth century. A general plan of development, specifications and standards, and the use of deed restrictions became essential elements used by developers and designers to control house design, ensure quality and harmony of construction, and create spatial organization suitable for fine homes in a park setting.

Boulevards and Residential Parks

City Beautiful principles, which were expressed in the writings of Charles Mulford Robinson and the creative genius of designers such as George E. Kessler and the Olmsted firm, resulted in the design and redesign of many American cities. They called for the coordination of transportation systems and residential development, and fostered improvements in the design of suburban neighborhoods, such as tree lined streets, installed utilities, and neighborhood parks, many of which were part of the city park systems. Across the Nation, suburbs following naturalistic Olmsted principles emerged such as Druid Hills (1893), in Atlanta, begun by Olmsted, Sr., and completed by the successor Olmsted firm; Hyde Park (1887) in Kansas City and the first phase of Roland Park (1891) in Baltimore, both designs by George E. Kessler.

They also gave rise to grand landscaped boulevards such as Cleveland's Fairmount Boulevard and parkways such as Boston's Jamaicaway, which extending outward from the city center became a showcase of elegant homes and carriage houses on wide spacious lots, often built by the Nation's leading architects and echoing popular Beaux Arts forms. In more modest western cities such as Boise, Idaho, boulevards became major corridors from which cross streets, following the city's grid, led to quiet neighborhoods of modest homes built by local builders.

Subdivisions built for the upper-income and professional classes could be laid out according to Olmsted principles, with roads designed to follow the natural topography and natural features such as knolls or depressions shaped into traffic circles or cul-de-sacs. Deep ravines or picturesque outcroppings were often left undeveloped or retained as a natural park for the purposes of recreation or scenic enjoyment. The spacious layout of curving streets and gently undulating topography gave way, however, to more compactly subdivided tracts for rising middle-income residents by the 1890s.

Early Radial Plans


[photo] Plat (c. 1892)(top) and Aerial View (1920) (bottom) , Ladd's Addition, Portland, Oregon. Platted as a streetcar suburb at the beginning of the City Beautiful movement, Ladd's Addition represents one of the earliest documented cases of a garden suburb with a complex, radial plan. (Plat and photograph courtesy Oregon Historical Society, negs. 80838 and 39917)

Influenced by the City Beautiful movement, a formalism unknown to the early Olmsted and Picturesque suburbs began to influence the design of residential suburbs. Formal principles of Beaux Arts design, drawn from European Renaissance and Baroque periods, emphasized radial and axial components that provided an orderly hierarchy of residential streets and community facilities.

Ladd's Addition (1891) in Portland, Oregon, would be one of the earliest attempts to adopt a radial plan drawn from Baroque principles of planning for the design of a garden suburb built to accommodate streetcar commuters. Laid out by engineers Arthur Hedley and Richard Greenleaf for developer William S. Ladd, the plan makes use of four wide, diagonal avenues emanating from a central circular park to the four corners of the parcel. Narrower streets running east to west and north to south extended outward to intersect with diagonal cross streets, forming in each quadrant a small diamond-shaped park. A commercial corridor and the streetcar line formed the subdivision's northern edge. The maintenance and planting of the parks became the responsibility of the city park authority, and by 1910 city landscape architect E. T. Mische had begun an active program of planting. Ladd's Addition predated, yet appears to have anticipated, the formality of Ebenezer Howard's English Garden City diagram, which was published several years later.(73)

Because radial plans were relatively simple to lay out, especially on flat terrain, they maintained some popularity into the 1920s appearing in Tucson's El Encanto Estates in the late 1920s and in Hare and Hare's plan for Wolflin Estates in Amarillo, Texas. Their greatest expression would occur later in response to the English Garden City movement and relate to advances in American city planning that went well beyond the turn-of-the-century residential park to impose a garden-like setting on the larger and more comprehensive scale of a self-contained community.(74)

Twentieth-Century Garden Suburbs:

Garden Suburbs and Country Club Suburbs

As developers like J. C. Nichols defined their role as community builders, they sought increasing control over the design of their subdivisions, devised ways to enhance a neighborhood's parklike setting and to reinforce the separation of city and suburb. Entrance ways with plantings, signs, and sometimes portals, reinforced a neighborhood's separation from noisy and crowded arterials and outlying commercial and industrial activity. The circulation network, often laid out in the formal geometry of axial lines and radial curves, imposed a rational order on many new subdivisions. Community parks and nearby country clubs provided recreational advantages. By the 1920s efforts were being undertaken to create compatible commercial centers on the periphery or at major points along the streetcar lines or major automobile arteries.

The laying out of traffic circles, residential courts, and landscaped boulevards provided open spaces for planting shade trees, ornamental trees, and gardens. Community parks, often having community centers or club houses, and nearby country clubs provided recreational advantages. Examples such as Myers Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, developed between 1911 and 1943 according to plans by John Nolen, Earl Sumner Draper, and Ezra Clarke Stiles, would receive national recognition for their quality of design and become important regional prototypes.(75)

Influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement

The Arts and Crafts movement, with its emphasis on craftsmanship, native materials, harmony of building construction with natural environment, and extensive plantings became a popular idiom for suburban landscape improvements, especially on the West Coast. Promoted by editors such as Gustav Stickley and Henry Saylor, these ideas were quickly imitated nationwide by designers intent on creating residential parks that offered housing in various price ranges from clustered bungalow courts to spacious upper-income subdivisions such as Prospect Park (1906) in Pasadena, in large part the work of master architects Charles and Henry Greene. Country club suburbs by Hare and Hare, such as Crestwood (1919-1920) in Kansas City, featured rusticated stone portals and corner parks. In Henry Wright's residential parks, Brentmoor Park, Brentmoor, and Forest Ridge (1910-1913) outside St. Louis, service entrances were separated from carriage drives, elegant homes were arranged around common parkland, and signs of forged iron and trolley waiting shelters of rusticated stone added to the Craftsman aesthetic.(76)

American Garden City Planning:

English Garden City planning had considerable influence in the United States, coinciding with advances in city planning spurred by the City Beautiful movement and widespread interest during the Progressive era for housing reform which extended to the design of neighborhoods for lower-income residents. English social reformer Ebenezer Howard, introduced the Garden City idea in Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898), which was republished as Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1902). Howard diagrammed his ideal city as a series of concentric circles devoted to bands of houses and gardens for residents of mixed income and occupations. A large park, public buildings, and commercial shops formed the center of the city, while an outer ring provided for industrial activities, an agricultural college, and social institutions and linked the community to an outlying greenbelt of agricultural land.

Howard's conceptual diagrams were first translated into the English garden suburbs of Letchworth (1902) and Hampstead Gardens (1905) by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, whose theories would have substantial influence on subdivision design in the United States. Designed as socially integrated communities for working-class families, the English suburbs resulted from comprehensive planning and encompassed a unified plan of architectural and landscape design. Limited in both geographical area and population to promote stability, they were designed to provide a healthy environment offering sunlight, fresh air, open space, and gardens. Innovative was the subdivision of the land into superblocks which could be developed in a unified manner, with architectural groupings alternating with open parks. A hierarchical circulation system made extensive use of cul-de-sacs that created a sense of enclosure and privacy within each large block.(77)

English Garden City planning influenced American residential suburbs in several ways. It strengthened an already strong interest in developing neighborhoods as residential parks, giving emphasis to both architectural character and landscape treatments as aspects of design. It was consistent with the emerging interest in collaborative planning, whereby residential development was to be based on sound economic analysis and draw on the combined design expertise of planners, architects, and landscape architects. It provided models for higher-density residential development that offered attractive and healthful housing at lower costs.

Through traveling lectures and his influential Town Planning in Practice (1909), English Garden City designer Raymond Unwin called for a formal town center, often taking a radial or semi-radial form that, extending outward in a web-like fashion, gradually blended into more informally arranged streets and blocks. The Garden City movement, under the influence of the designers Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., John Nolen and Werner Hegemann and Elbert Peets, would give great complexity to town planning and subdivision design by integrating the principles of English planning with the American Olmsted tradition of naturalistic design.

Forest Hills

In the United States, the influence of the English garden suburbs melded with interest in Beaux Arts planning and first appeared in the design of Forest Hills Gardens (1909-1911), a philanthropic project sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation. The design was a collaboration between developer Edward H. Bouton, landscape architect and planner Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and architect Grosvenor Atterbury. Located on the route of the Long Island Railroad, Forest Hills was designed to house moderate-income, working-class families and served as a model of domestic reform. The design of both the community and individual homes reflected progressive ideas that upheld the value of sunshine, fresh air, recreation, and a garden-like setting for healthy, domestic life. Unlike the spacious Olmsted-influenced curvilinear suburbs built for the rising middle class, the early Garden City influenced designs in the United States were intended to house lower-income, working-class families. The spaciousness of the American garden suburb was replaced by a careful orchestration of small gardens, courts, and common grounds shaped by the architectural grouping of dwelling units.(78)

Guilford (1912), Edward Bouton's second large suburb for Baltimore, built adjacent to Roland Park and also laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., applied many planned features such as radial streets, landscaped medians, cul-de-sacs, and planted circular islands to the American idiom of the residential park for the rising middle class. Integrated with public parks and landscaped streets, it attained a highly controlled artistic expression based on Garden City principles.(79)

Panoramic view of intersecting streets in Guilford (1912-1950), a Baltimore suburb, shows the formality and precision of design, as well as conventions such as landscaped medians, which characterized the work of the Olmsted Brothers following Olmsted, Jr.'s European tour as a member of the McMillan Commission and the firm's introduction to English Garden City principles. (Photo by Greg Pease, courtesy Maryland Department of Housing and Economic Development)

Washington Highlands

The plan for Washington Highlands (1916) in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, by Werner Hegemann and Elbert Peets reflected a fusion of formal and informal elements-allées of evenly spaced trees, symmetrical formal plantings, with curvilinear streets, including a major street that formed a peripheral arc and followed a low-lying stream bed that functioned as a linear park. Through The American Vitruvius: An Architect's Handbook of Civic Art (1922), Hegemann and Peets would exert considerable influence on the design of metropolitan areas in the United States. During the New Deal, Peets would design the Resettlement Administration's greenbelt community at Greendale, Wisconsin.(80)

World War I Defense Housing


Hilton Village (1918), Newport News, Virginia, one of the earliest and most complete examples of U.S. government-sponsored town planning during World War I. It was designed by the short-lived Emergency Fleet Corporation to house the families of defense workers at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. The community's design illustrates the close collaboration of town planner Henry V. Hubbard and architect Francis Y. Joannes. Variations in the design of roofs, entranceways, and materials in the grouping of similar house types, as well as landscape features, such as staggered setbacks and the retention of existing trees, were introduced to avoid the monotony and austerity characteristic of earlier industrial housing. (Photograph courtesy Mariners Museum, Newport News)

During World War I, the short-lived United States Housing Corporation of the U.S. Labor Department and the Emergency Fleet Corporation of the U.S. Shipping Board, encouraged town planners and designers of emergency housing communities for industrial workers to adopt Garden City models. Under the leadership of prominent planners and architects Nolen, Olmsted, Jr., and Robert Kohn, these programs encouraged the collaboration of town planners, architects, and landscape architects, and advocated a comprehensive approach to community planning. The AIA sent architect Frederick Ackerman to England to study the new garden cities with the purpose of infusing American defense housing projects with similar principles of design.

For many young designers, working on emergency housing provided an unprecedented opportunity to work on a project of substantial scale and to work collaboratively across disciplines. Dozens of projects appeared across the country in centers of shipbuilding and other defense industries. Many would serve as models of suburban design in subsequent decades. Among the most influential were Yorkship (Fairview) in Camden, New Jersey; Seaside Village in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Union Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware; Atlantic Heights in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Hilton Village in Newport News, Virginia; and Truxtun in Portsmouth, Virginia.


Developed 1925 to 1929, Albers Place in Mariemont, Ohio, illustrates one of planner John Nolen's conventions for organizing space to create a cohesive village setting by adopting a single architectural theme, clustering dwellings around a short court having a narrow circular drive and open central park, and unifying the space with common walls and plantings of trees and shrubs. (Photo by Steve Gordon, courtesy of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office)


John Nolen's town plan for Mariemont (1921), Ohio, was heralded for its achievement in integrating a variety of land uses into a well-unified community, which provided commercial zones, industrial zones, and a variety of housing types that ranged from apartment houses to large period revival homes. The plan embodied a combination of formal and informal design principles and integrated parks and common areas.

American towns and the residential suburbs that followed similar design principles were frequently hybrid plans where a radial plan of a formal core area extended outward along axial corridors, interspersed by small gridiron areas, and eventually opened outward along curvilinear streets that more closely fit the site's natural topography and followed Olmsted principles. Streets were laid out to specific widths to allow for border plantings, landscaped medians and islands, and shaped intersections that gave formality and unity to residential streets. Noted architects were invited to design houses in a variety of styles.

Mariemont received considerable recognition as a model of community planning. It was featured in Nolen's New Towns for Old: Achievements in Civic Improvements in Some American Small Towns and Neighborhoods (1927), which popularized suburban planning and provided a number of highly emulated models including Myers Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, initially planned by Nolen in 1911, and completed under landscape architect Earl Sumner Draper. Mariemont was also highly praised in the Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs (1929) and the proceedings of the 1931 President's Conference.

While providing a variety of housing types for mixed incomes, the plan for Mariemont introduced an innovative design of interweaving cul-de-sacs and avenues that accommodated a wide range of housing types from rowhouses to duplexes to spacious detached homes that were grouped into clusters serving particular income groups. Often designed by a single firm, clusters exhibited a cohesive architectural style. The plan also called for convenient commercial services at the core of the community in cohesive architectural groupings characteristic of the English garden cities. Mariemont was designed with a separate industrial zone intended to attract a number of industries. English Tudor Revival influences blended with the American Colonial Revival to form attractive housing clusters and a shopping district. In Nolen's design, tree lined streets were designed at varying widths to accentuate the village setting and accommodate transportation within the community and the needs of each housing group.(81)

The RPAA and Sunnyside

In 1923 architect-planners Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, along with Frederick Ackerman, Charles Whitaker, Alexander Bing, Lewis Mumford, Benton MacKaye, and others, founded the Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA) to promote Garden City principles as a basis for metropolitan expansion. Although the RPAA was broadly concerned with the retention of open space and agricultural zones, their practical accomplishments were focused on the creation of satellite communities that melded Garden City principles with the immediate needs of housing reform.



Aerial view (c. 1930) and Town Plan (c. 1928), Radburn, New Jersey. Designed by RPAA planners Clarence S. Stein and Henry Wright as a satellite Garden City for New York City, Radburn was a radical departure from the typical American suburb. Innovations included the use of superblocks having a central swathe of open park land, the grouping of residences to face gardens and grounds and back on service courts, separate circulation networks for pedestrians and automobiles, and a hierarchy of streets to reduce construction costs and ensure safety. The new town was the embodiment of Clarence Perry's Neighborhood Unit, a model for community planning presented in the Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs (1929) and enthusiastically endorsed by the 1931 President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership. (Photo and plan courtesy Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library)

Its first project, Sunnyside Gardens (1924-1928), was built in Queens outside New York City as a model community for moderate-income families and funded by the City Housing Corporation, a limited dividend company formed by the RPAA and headed by Bing. Although local regulations required the designers to adhere to the gridiron street system, the location's industrial use zoning allowed them to develop each block as a single parcel instead of subdividing it into separate lots. Using architectural groupings to create alternating areas of open and closed space, the designers arranged attached single- and multiple family dwellings to form the perimeter of each block, enclosing a central common set aside for gardening and recreation.(82)

Radburn and Chatham Village

At Radburn, beginning in 1928, Stein and Wright applied Garden City planning principles to the problem of creating an attractive and healthy community of moderately-priced homes. Radburn, initially financed by the City Housing Corporation, was envisioned as a "Town for the Motor Age" derived from the Garden City principles and adapted to the practical needs of an automobile age. Located 16 miles from New York City in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Radburn was planned as three interconnected neighborhoods each housing up to 10,000 residents. Each neighborhood was to consist of a superblock that was served by a circulation system that separated pedestrian and automobile traffic and instituted a hierarchy of roads to reduce construction costs and promote traffic safety. A variety of house types-detached, semi-detached, row, and apartment-was integrated into the design, as well as schools, recreational facilities, and a shopping center.

Each superblock was carefully designed with an interior park or green, which served as the backbone of the neighborhood with houses fronting on it and pedestrian walks running along its length. The superblocks merged together to form a continuous swathe of park, and underpasses were to be introduced to allow pedestrians to pass beneath the motor roads, making it possible for children to walk to school without crossing streets. Narrow cul-de-sacs penetrated each superblock from perimeter feeder streets. Houses were oriented so that living rooms and bedrooms faced private gardens and the central green, while kitchens and garages faced cul-de-sacs that provided automobile access and functioned as short service courts. Radburn's hierarchy of roads not only afforded the benefits of safety and convenience, but also significantly reduced construction costs by limiting the amount of space occupied by streets and enabling the use of smaller water and sewer mains.(83)


Aerial view (1943), Chatham Village, Pittsburgh. An enduring model of American Garden City planning, Chatham Village (1932-1936) resulted from a careful study of economic conditions and the collaboration of local architects Ingrahm and Boyd, landscape architects Griswold and Kohankie, and advisors Stein and Wright. Developed as both a philanthropic venture and financial investment by the Buhl Foundation, the community received high acclaim for its integration of a large number of moderately-priced rental units with spacious grounds and woodland, the artistry of its Colonial Revival styling, and its accommodation of interconnected dwellings within a steeply sloping site. (Photo by Aerial Survey of Pittsburgh Inc., courtesy Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission)

A philanthropic venture of the Buhl Foundation begun in 1929, Chatham Village in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, further refined Garden City principles and made important aesthetic and functional advances in the design of low-to-moderate income, multiple family housing. The design resulted from the collaboration of Stein and Wright, who acted as site planners and project advisors, and a team of local architects, Charles T. Ingham and William T. Boyd, and landscape architects Ralph E. Griswold and Theodore Kohankie. The designers utilized superblock planning, groups of connected dwellings efficiently adjusted to the steeply sloping site, and landscaped garden courts that blended with natural ravines and woodland that surrounded the community on three sides. The project represented the ultimate fusion of Garden City planning and Colonial Revival design and received international acclaim as a highly successful model of Garden City planning. It served as an enduring model for large-scale, FHA-insured rental communities in the 1930s and 1940s.(84)

The Neighborhood Unit and the 1931 President's Conference

Radburn exemplified the Neighborhood Unit Formula, developed by Clarence Perry of the Russell Sage Foundation, and incorporated in Volume 7, "Neighborhood and Community Planning," of the 1929 Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs. Perry's formula called for the creation of communities large enough to support an elementary school, preferably about 160 acres with ten percent reserved for recreation and park space. Interior streets were to be no wider than required for their use with cul-de-sacs and side streets being relatively narrow. Community facilities were to be centrally located, and a shopping district was to be located on the edge of the community where neighborhood streets joined the main arterials. Perry's concept was overwhelmingly endorsed at the 1931 President's Conference and laid a solid foundation for the development of FHA standards in the 1930s.(85)

The recommendations of the 1931 President's Conference for the design of residential neighborhoods reflected widespread acceptance of the idea of community planning and Perry's concept of the self-contained neighborhood unit. Mention was made of the advances made in the 1920s, and Radburn was praised for "producing desirable homes with ample open spaces at reasonably low cost." Such planning served two purposes-the grouping of homes into "reasonably compact residential neighborhoods with spaciousness for health and recreation," and creating "sub-centers for industry" with the object of "lessening the density of congested centers." The report stated:

Stability of investment in a home is best assured when the subdivision is a community or neighborhood unit, which is amply protected by deed restrictions that supplement the zoning regulations, developed by real estate dealers of proved ability, and in which there is a strong homes association permanently concerned with the welfare of the neighborhood.(86)

Location was to be selected for "good access, good setting, public services, schools, parks and neighborhood unity," and subdivision plats were to be developed by an experienced landscape engineer or site planner and were to follow a "balanced plan" that took advantage of "topography, sunlight, natural features, and all sensible engineering and landscape considerations."(87)

Streets were to be designed for safety and economy and drawn at varying widths depending on the required setbacks, with deeper setbacks allowing for narrower streets. For example, a 60-foot width allowed for a 26-foot roadway and a sidewalk of four to six feet. The size and shape of lots were to be determined by the proposed type of housing, with the width of each lot depending on the size and character of the buildings, cost of the land, community tradition, and potential home owner. The use of longer blocks with fewer cross streets and the subdivision of land into wide, shallow lots were encouraged, departing from previous practices. Homes were to be "located upon narrow winding streets away from the noise and dangers of traffic" and to have proper orientation for sunlight.(88)

Spaciousness was upheld as a "primary principle in good subdivision layout." The ideal neighborhood was described as one protected by proper zoning regulations, where trees and the natural beauty of the landscape were preserved, and where streets were gently curving and adjusted to the contour of the ground. Open space was viewed as one of the most important considerations for home ownership. It could be achieved in three ways: (1) by subdividing into large lots, (2) by reserving large open areas in the interior of blocks, or (3) by creating parks, playgrounds, or large private spaces nearby. (89)

FHA Principles for Neighborhood Planning:

The National Housing Act of 1934 created the Federal Housing Administration to restructure the collapsed private home financing system and stimulate private investment in housing. It called for the development of housing standards, a process for real estate appraisal, and a comprehensive program of review for approving subdivisions for mortgage insurance.

Neighborhoods of Small Houses

FHA's Land Planning Division under Seward H. Mott, an experienced site planner, was responsible for establishing principles for neighborhood planning and for reviewing subdivision plans submitted by developers seeking FHA approval. This approval would not only enable developers to secure private financing but would also make low-cost mortgages available for prospective home owners. Mott's staff translated many of the prevailing ideas about neighborhood design that had been endorsed by the 1931 President's Conference, including Perry's Neighborhood Unit Formula, into written standards and basic design principles that could be uniformly applied across the Nation to the design of neighborhoods of small houses. Between 1936 and 1940, FHA published standards and recommended designs in a series of circulars, including Subdivision Development, Planning Neighborhoods for Small Houses, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, and Successful Subdivisions.(90)

The FHA set forth seven minimum requirements for new subdivisions:
1. Location exhibiting a healthy and active demand for homes.
2. Location possessing a suitable site in terms of topography, soil condition, tree cover, and absence of hazards such as flood, fog, smoke, obnoxious odors, etc.
3. Accessibility by means of public transportation (streetcars and buses) and adequate highways to schools, employment, and shopping centers.
4. Installation of appropriate utilities and street improvements (meeting city or county specifications), and carefully related to needs of the development.
5. Compliance with city, county or regional plans and regulations, particularly local zoning and subdivision regulations to ensure that the neighborhood will become stable (and real estate values as well.)
6. Protection of values through "appropriate" deed restrictions (including setbacks, lot sizes, minimum costs of construction).
7. Guarantee of a sound financial set up, whereby subdividers were financially able to carry through their sales and development program, and where taxes and assessments were in line with the type of development contemplated and likely to remain stable.

In addition, FHA issued a set of "desirable standards," which, although not strict requirements, were additional factors that influenced the approval of a project.

• Careful adaptation of subdivision layout to topography and to natural features
• Adjustment of street plan and street widths and grades to best meet the traffic needs
• Elimination of sharp corners and dangerous intersections
• Long blocks that eliminated unnecessary streets
•Carefully studied lot plan with generous and well-shaped house sites
• Parks and playgrounds
• Establishment of community organizations of property owners
• Incorporation of features that add to the privacy and attractiveness of the community.(91)

In 1936, FHA published Planning Neighborhoods for Small Houses as "a subdivision primer" setting forth standards for the design of new subdivisions that provided safe, livable neighborhoods and ensured stable real estate conditions that justified mortgage lending and FHA mortgage insurance. The FHA encouraged large-scale operations, where development was financed and carried out under the direction of an "operative builder" who arranged for the purchase of land, the design of the subdivision plat, and the design and construction of the houses. Such large-scale operations offered a "broader and more profitable use of capital" and permitted the introduction of "industrial methods that resulted in savings in overhead, construction, and merchandising costs." Developers were able to develop neighborhood plans in a consistent and harmonious manner, and in addition develop "commercial services such as retail stores and gasoline stations necessary to the life of the new community."(92)


FHA redesigned plan for a subdivision near Pontiac, Michigan, from Planning Profitable Neighborhoods (1938). FHA's curvilinear plan featured irregularly shaped blocks of evenly-sized house lots and the integration of long, sweeping feeder streets punctuated by narrow courts, circles, and cul-de-sacs. Such plans discouraged through traffic, eliminated dangerous four-way intersections, and reduced the cost of constructing roads and utilities. (Plan courtesy Library of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

To Seward Mott, who headed FHA's Land Planning Division, the legislation's mandate provided an opportunity to redirect the design of suburban America and to create conditions that would force public officials and planners alike to adopt planning measures and to abandon the rectilinear grid in favor of plans of curvilinear streets. Curvilinear plans had many advantages when compared to rectilinear gridiron plans: they provided greater privacy and visual interest; could be adapted to greater variations in topography; reduced the cost of utilities and road construction; and, by eliminating the need for dangerous four-way intersections, provided a safer environment for domestic activities.(93)

The curvilinear layouts recommended by FHA in the 1930s set the standards for the design of post-World War II subdivisions. They evolved from Garden City suburbs such as Seaside Village and Radburn, and the organic curvilinear designs of the nineteenth-century Picturesque suburbs. Highly influential were Olmsted and Vaux's Riverside, with its spacious plan of undulating and recessed, curvilinear streets, and Roland Park with its careful subdivision of land based on topography and the development of curvilinear streets that joined at oblique and acute angles and ended in cul-de-sacs in hollows or on hillside knolls. By the 1930s, such principles of design had been absorbed into the mainstream practices of the landscape architectural profession.

FHA-Approved Garden Apartment Communities

Through its Large-Scale Rental Housing Division in the 1930s, FHA became involved in the approval of designs and the creation of standards for large-scale rental housing communities under Section 207 of the National Housing Act. Financed privately by insurance companies or others with large capital, or through public housing bonds issued by municipalities or affiliated agencies, such developments offered low-cost rents for middle-and low-income Americans while providing incentives to the private building industry. FHA mortgage insurance minimized the risk of investing for lenders. The program gained momentum in the mid-1930s when the market for single-family housing was still uncertain, and expanded in the 1940s when additional insurance was authorized for housing in critical defense areas and later veterans' housing. Rental housing developments, especially those with a sizeable number of units, could take advantage of the economies of large-scale production and the use of standardized components.

FHA architect Eugene Henry Klaber worked closely with operative builders, many of whom hired architects and landscape architects to ensure that approved projects were efficiently designed cost-wise, had a solid plan for management, and were likely to materialize into sound, long-term investments. Efficiency of design required that each housing community be built at a large enough scale to take advantage of the savings offered by superblock planning and the use of standardized materials and methods. Most of these communities incorporated two- and three-story, multiple family dwellings in a variety of floor plans, often having private entrances and sometimes intermingled with rowhouse or duplex units. A suburban location and neighborhood amenities further contributed to the stability of real estate values and protected the investment of lenders. In 1940, the FHA issued a series of "Architectural Bulletins," which provided economical and efficient designs for all aspects of multiple family house design, from the layout of kitchens to the planting of common areas.(94)

Many of the reforms and concerns for safety that the RPAA had introduced at Sunnyside, Radburn, and Chatham Village were carried over into the design of apartment communities. These included: the arrangement of housing units to afford privacy, sunlight, and fresh air; separation of internal pedestrian circulation from perimeter motor traffic; and provision of landscaped gardens and grounds away from the noise and activity of major arterial streets. Housing units in developments such as Colonial Village in Arlington, Virginia, were carefully arranged to fit the existing topography and designed to provide visual appeal, variety, and a village-like atmosphere.(95)

Such designs would provide attractive dwellings at a higher density and lower cost than neighborhoods of single family homes. To achieve the highest standards of safety and quiet, the standards for projects containing several hundred units called for the development of superblocks with garden courts, ample throughways with pedestrian underpasses and walkways, parking and garage compounds, centralized trash stations, and the elimination of service alleys. Clearance between buildings was carefully considered to provide adequate light, free circulation of air, and privacy. A maximum height of three stories was recommended unless elevators could be provided. Landscaping around foundations, common areas, and the circulation network, was recommended depending on rental costs and project's capitalization. In addition to playgrounds and common areas, larger developments included stores, recreation centers, and medical offices.(96)

The Postwar Curvilinear Subdivision

Through FHA's publication of standards for neighborhood planning and its comprehensive review and revision of subdivisions for mortgage approval, curvilinear subdivision design became the standard of both sound real estate practice and local planning. As FHA-backed mortgages supported more and more new residential development on the edge of American cities, local planning commissions adopted some form of the FHA standards as subdivision regulations. Thus, by the late 1940s, the curvilinear subdivision had evolved from the Olmsted, City Beautiful, and Garden City models to the FHA-approved standard, which had become the legally required form of new residential development in many localities in the United States. Based on the Garden City idea, the greenbelt communities built by the U.S. government under the Resettlement Administration during the New Deal became models of suburban planning, incorporating not only the Radburn Idea but also the FHA standards for neighborhood design.(97)


1949 aerial view (right) and present day streetscape (below), Arapahoe Acres, Englewood, Colorado. Built between 1949 and 1957, the 33-acre postwar subdivision reflects the vision of developer-architect Edward Hawkins and site planner-architect Eugene Sternberg for a community of moderately-priced small houses using modern principles of design. Breaking the ubiquitous grid of metropolitan Denver, the plan is distinctive for its curvilinear arrangement of streets, placement of houses on small uniformly sized lots to provide both views and privacy, and integration of landscape features, such as lawns, fences, hedges, shrubbery, and specimen trees, to organize space and give the landscape a flowing, sculptural quality. (Aerial photo courtesy of Clyde Mannon; streetscape by Diane Wray, courtesy Colorado Historical Society)

The curvilinear subdivision layout was further institutionalized as the building industry came to support national regulations that would standardize local building practices and reduce unexpected development costs. One of the most influential private organizations representing the building industry was the Urban Land Institute (ULI), established in 1936 as an independent nonprofit research organization dedicated to urban planning and land development. Sponsored by the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB) and serving as a consultant to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), ULI provided information to developers about community developments that supported land-use planning and promoted the idea of metropolitan-wide coordination as an approach to development.(98)

In 1947 the ULI published its first edition of the Community Builder's Handbook. Providing detailed instructions for community development based on the curvilinear subdivision and neighborhood unit approach, it became a basic reference for the community development industry and, by 1990, was in its seventh edition. In 1950 the NAHB, the primary trade organization for the industry, published the Home Builders' Manual for Land Development.

Thus, by the late 1940s, the concept of neighborhood planning had become institutionalized in American planning practice. This form of development, in seamless repetition, would create the post-World War II suburban landscape.

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