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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Why are American cities, suburbs, and towns so distinct? Compared to European cities, those in the United States are characterized by lower densities and greater distances; neat, geometric layouts; an abundance of green space; a greater level of social segregation reflected in space; and--perhaps most noticeably--a greater share of individual, single-family detached ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Cornell University Press (first published November 18th 2014)
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Michael Lewyn
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book destroys a variety of myths about American land use and zoning.

One common myth is that home ownership is “the American Dream”- more common in the U.S. than elsewhere. Not so! Hirt shows that 65 percent of American housing is owner-occupied- less than the European Union average (70 percent), Canada or Australia. Moreover, many American homes are effectively owned by banks through mortgages; 45 percent of U.S. houses have a mortgage, while the European Union average is 27 percent. The
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is interesting, and the conclusion is really well done, but there's no reason for it to be nearly as long as it is for a non-academic audience. If there was an hour-and-a-half version of this I could give to people to read I would absolutely do it.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Zoned in the USA : The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation (2014) by Sonia Hirt is an interesting look at how land use regulation came into being in much of the US. It's a well written, scholarly book.

The book looks at how Americans pride themselves on being a nation of home owners but how recently a number of other countries have overtaken them. The trademark of suburbs and segregated commercial, industrial and residential zoning is widespread in the US.

Hirt carefully goes
Samarth Gupta
I believe this book, unexpectedly, will be one that I think about and revisit for years. In fact, I don't think I will be able to walk around any city in the U.S. or in the world without now thinking about zoning and how its construction has framed our lives in fundamental ways.

The book is academic yet captivating not because of the writing style rather the content. The U.S. does not fit the typology of other developed countries' zoning laws. Instead, the U.S. has diverged into its strict,
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really great historical/comparative overview of zoning laws. It's an easy and lucid read that makes its points concisely and well.

I really dug this as an introduction into how the US got its weird zoning laws, what those laws are supposed to do, and what alternatives are out there. If you're scratching at this issue too, for whatever political or professional or pasttime purposes, you should read it too.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-planning
This book was a little bit of a slog for me. It is about how the zoning of Freedom-Loving Americans is so much stricter than the zoning of places in Europe. Why do single-family homes get their own zoning designation in the US? What are other ways that zoning could be done? Since I was not familiar with the topic, I learned a lot of new things from this book.
Great read breaks down the origins of zoning and its implications for today.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very worthwhile book. It is an attempt to demonstrate and explain the features of modern zoning codes (and cities) that are almost unique to the United States: the very broad use of exclusively residential zones and exclusively single-family house zones. It combines an extended history of zoning, both internationally and in America, with a comparative study of modern zoning codes and legal regimes surrounding new construction in several countries, most notably England and Germany.

The book is
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: urbanism
Suited more to someone that has little knowledge of zoning. To say I didn't learn anything would be a lie, but big points in the book were still well-known to me before reading them.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
With no background in planning, I found this to be a good introduction to the basics of US zoning and its historical and international context.
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
This is a very brief book, but makes for good background on understanding U.S. zoning in an international (though mostly European) context.
Daniel Burton
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good news, American Land Use/Zoning is uniquely awful in the world.
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