The History of Planning: Part I
This chapter discusses the history of planning in the United States, from the colonial period to the end of the 1920s and the onset of the Great Depression. Prior to the American Revolution, municipalities had strong powers to control the use of land and thus shape their own form. These powers came out of a European tradition that treated the town or village as an independent corporation, which might own, control, or dispose of most of the land within its boundaries. The motivation to catch up with the Europeans stemmed in part from the economic growth of nineteenth-century America, since it was wealth and leisure that gave us the feeling that we could afford that which was not purely functional. One important part of the history of planning has been the evolution of some public control over privately owned land. The interest in sanitation dovetailed with another preoccupation of nineteenth-century planners, namely the provision of urban parkland.