Page 120 Land Use Planning and the Environment: A Casebook
Zoning received only passing attention at the rst City Planning Conference in 1909.4 Although
in 1911 the Committee on Legislative and Administrative Methods presented model acts for other
aspects of city planning, it suggested no comprehensive zoning act; the reason given for this omis-
sion was that the views of conference members were as yet too undecided on the subject.5 However,
a paper the following year, e Control of Municipal Development by the “Zoning System” and Its
Application in the United States,6 was followed up, in 1913, by the report, Districting, by the Height
of Buildings Commission.7
New York City is generally credited with enacting the rst comprehensive zoning ordinance, in
1916. Prior to this time, California’s high court had upheld use restrictions (at least, those enforced
against Chinese-Americans),8 and the U.S. Supreme Court had approved height restrictions in
Boston.9 e movement in favor of this new form of comprehensive zoning took on the aspects of
a fervid crusade.10 W hereas, in 1916, Lawrence Veiller had announced that zoning “sounds like
a beautiful dream,”11 by the following year George Ford was able to state that as a result of the
success in New York, zoning was being organized, actively promoted, or actually carried on in 20
municipalities.12 In 1922, Frank B. Williams published e Law of City Planning and Zoning, the
rst comprehensive American work in the eld. e same year eodora Kimball could write that
“[z]oning has taken the country by storm”; she reported 20 enabling acts, nearly 50 ordinances,
and about 100 zone plans in progress.13
4. See George B. Ford, e Scope of City Planning in the United States, S. Doc. No. 422, Hearing on City Planning, 61st
Cong., 2d Sess. 70 (1910); Henry Morgenthau, A National Constructive Programme for City Planning, id. at 59. A
news article covering the event carried the following headlines: “Cities Must Guard Health of Workers; Henry Morgen-
thau Outlines in Washington a Plan to Obtain Model Homes for Poor; Better Transit Needed; Present Conditions a
Crime, He Declares—Cabinet Ocers to Preside at Conference To-day,” N.Y. T, May 22, 1909, at 3.
5. See Andrew Wright Crawford, Certain Principles of a Uniform City Planning Code, in N C
C P 231, 239 (1911). And see the comments by Ernst Freund, and the reactions thereto, id. at 241, 258.
6. Id. at 173 (1912).
7. Reprinted in Commission on Building Districts and Restrictions, Final Report, app. III, at 51 (1916).
8. In the case of In re Hang Kie, 69 Cal. 149, 10 P. 327 (1886), the court turned down a habeas corpus challenge to an
ordinance that read:
It shall be unlawful for any person to establish, maintain, or carry on the business of a public laundry or wash-
house where articles are washed and cleansed for hire, within the city of Modesto, except within that part of the
city which lies west of the railroad track and south of G Street.
. Swasey, 214 U.S. 91
ejecting a taking and equal protection challenge to “a discrimination or clas-
sication between sections of the city, one of which, the business or commercial part, has a limitation of one hundred
and twenty-ve feet, and the other, used for residential purposes, has a permitted height of buildings from eighty to
one hundred feet”). irteen years before the Pennsylvania Coal decision, Justice Rufus Peckham, the author of the
anti-regulation, majority opinion in Lochner, wrote for a unanimous Court:
We are not prepared to hold that this limitation of eighty to one hundred feet, while in fact a discrimination
or classication, is so unreasonable that it deprives the owner of the property of its protable use without justi-
cation, and that he is therefore entitled under the Constitution to compensation for such invasion of his rights.
e discrimination thus made is, as we think, reasonable, and is justied by the police power.
Id. at 107.
On October 17, 1791, President George Washington issued a regulation “that the wall of no House shall be
higher than forty feet to the Roof, in any part of the City, nor shall any be lower than thirty-ve feet on any of
the avenues.” In order to attract the settlement of “Mechanics and others whose Circumstances did not admit of
erecting Houses authorized by the said Regulations,” they were suspended in 1796. See T J
N C 197 (Saul K. Padover ed., 1946).
10. James Metzenbaum, the successful attorney for the Village of Euclid in the case establishing the constitutional valid-
ity of zoning, expounded on “the great sacrice and eorts on the part of many noble men who consecrated them-
selves.” 1 L Z 52 (2d ed. 1955).
11. Districting by Municipal Regulation, in N C C P 147 (1916).
12. What Has Been Accomplished in City Planning During the Past Year, 6 N’ M. R. 346 (1917).
13. Review of Planning in the United States, 1920-1921, 11 N’ M. R. 27, 32 (1922).