Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation


Product Details

Cornell University Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.6 inches | 0.79 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Sonia A. Hirt is Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Virginia Tech. She is the author of Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space in the Post-socialist City and coeditor most recently of The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs.


"Hirt has given us a thorough history of what we have been doing and a fine description of what we can learn from other countries. Nicely illustrative tables/figures and 'textboxes' make it well suitable for upper-division and graduate students."

--Ulf Zimmermann "Planning Perspectives "

"This is an excellent book and an impeccable introduction to American zoning for anyone interested in US city planning and urban geography. In one sense, it is a primer on US zoning theory and practice: it provides all the basic elements and history in a mercifully succinct manner in under two hundred pages. This would bean ideal book to give to a student or colleague just cutting hisorher teeth in urban studies. Yet, at the same time, Sonia Hirt makes some original contributions to the field by clearly placing American practices in international and historical perspective. The book worked for me on both levels. I have been reading US books on urban history and geography for nearly fifty years, starting with postwar studies of zoning by the likes of John Delaphons, Stephen Toll, and Richard Babcock, and histories of planning and urban development by such authorities as Peter Hall, Mel Scott, and Sam Bass Warner; I even reached back to the pioneers of American urban studies like Robert Hurd, Herbert Swan, and Louis Mumford. It was a pleasure to encounter them again here and be reminded of the twists and turns of citymaking in the United States. It was even more of a delight to be shown that history with such remarkable clarity and in a new light."

--Richard Walker "H-Environment "

"This kind of comparative research deserves more support and encouragement. Although it is difficult to do, it holds out the promise of a richer analysis of the historical development of institutions--particularly, as in this case, when cross-national policy transfer is an explicit part of the history."

--Jerome Hodos "Journal of American History "

"Why can a German get his taxes done by walking downstairs while I, in a perfectly dense neighborhood in Los Angeles, need to get in my car to find a konditorei? This is, essentially, the question Sonja Hirt asks in Zoned in the USA, a surprisingly rousing analysis and history of American zoning laws. It takes an outsider like Hirt--who is Bulgarian and therefore familiar with both European cities and governmental power--to recognize the stark differences between the control of land in American cities and that in their counterparts elsewhere in the developed world. A professor of planning at Virginia Tech, Hirt positions herself as the Alexis de Toqueville of planning, equally baffled and fascinated by the odd world that Americans have built."

--Josh Stephens "Planetizen "

"[Hirt] provides a succinct overview of the history of zoning in the US. She compares zoning in the US to five European countries--England, France, Sweden, Germany, and Russia--to highlight its distinctiveness. The story of American zoning reveals its origins in the early-20th century, fashioned to maintain property values and protect Americans' investments in their homes. The book tells the story of how local, state, and federal governments have contributed to the use of zoning to preserve the single-family detached home, connecting zoning to other policies, such as transportation and home loan financing. This is a terrific book for collections on housing, land use, zoning, and law."