The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 138
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
zoning in the 1920S and a former chairman of the Cincinnati City Plan-
ning Commission, stated that zoning is "that part of the city plan which
relates to development on private property, whereas the other parts of
the city plan relate to public developments...." In 1916, New York
City was the first American city to adopt a comprehensive zoning ordi-
nance, and it became the model for other American cities to emulate.
As the historian of American city planning, Mel Scott, has stated,
"urban America [in the 1920s] was now sure it would perish if it did
not have zoning .... City after city worked itself into a state of acute
apprehension until it could adopt a zoning ordinance."9
Initially the New York City zoning ordinance was the product of a
diverse coalition of businessmen and reformers, but in the business-
oriented 1920os it became increasingly divorced from the reform im-
pulse and "became the desired institution of men whose principal
interest was the condition of the real estate market." As a result, it
became an institutionalized legal device to control and stabilize the
real-estate market, rather than a tool designed to enhance a master
plan. In fact, the zoning ordinance passed in New York City and imi-
tated by other American cities was, according to Mel Scott, "a setback
to the city planning movement because it contributed to the wide-
spread practice of zoning before planning and, in many cities, to the
acceptance of zoning as a substitute for planning." In the 192os, three
times as many cities adopted zoning as adopted master plans.10
Despite the gradual waning of reform fervor for zoning, the adoption
of zoning ordinances continued apace. By 1927, 525 cities had a zoning
ordinance and by 1936, only twenty years after the passage of the 1916
New York City Zoning Resolution, 1,322 cities had zoning. Due to its
almost overwhelming acceptance, no clear pattern emerges. Larger
cities and smaller cities adopted it at the same pace, and there was no
economic pattern that indicated that boom towns were either slower
or faster in approving zoning than their slower-growing contempo-
raries. Generally, acceptance was slowest in "some of the sparsely
settled mountain states of the West and Southwest, a few of the south-
ern states and the upper New England states.... "11
9Scott, American City Planning, 155, 192 (second quotation); Toll, Zoned American,
188, 193, 263 (first quotation), 258, 286.
loToll, Zoned American, 188 (first quotation), 203. See also Makielski, The Politics of
Zoning, 8-4o; Scott, American City Planning, 144, 155, 16o (second quotation), 227, 240.
11Robert Walker, The Planning Function in American Urban Government (Chicago,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/174/ocr/: accessed April 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.