Although land is a subject that cries out for unified treatment in that our traditions of mixed private and public land management cause many of the physical and social problems of today's city, no author has yet ventured a historical synthesis. Instead the reader who wishes to understand the land-management background of the metropolis faces a series of highly compartmentalized literatures of frontier history, law, geography, economics, city and regional planning, and commercial real estate. The following suggestions may at least sensitize the curious to the range of controversial issues concealed beneath the drab rubric of real-estate history.
The master of the occupation of frontier land is Paul W. Gates, and his History of Public Land Law Development , Washington, 1968, should be read in conjunction with a series of essays describing the mechanisms and consequences of past land allocations: Vernon Carstensen, ed., The Public Lands ,
Madison, 1963. The links between these rural precedents and the design of towns and cities stand forth clearly in Norman J. W. Thrower's modest geography Original Survey and Land Subdivision , Chicago, 1966; and in the collection of past town plans in John W. Reps' The Making of Urban America , Princeton, 1965. Charles M. Haar, ed., Law and Land: Anglo-American Planning Practice , Cambridge, 1964, tells the legal plight our traditions have led us to, while Shirley S. Passow's article "Land Resources and Teamwork in Planning Stockholm," Journal of the American Institute of Planners , 36 (May 1970), 179-88, casts the strong light of the alternative course of active municipal land trading upon our impasse.
Before venturing into the history of attempts to regulate real estate, the reader should familiarize himself with the workings of the private market and the patterns of urban land use with- which regulations seek to cope. Maurice H. Yates and Barry J. Garner's The North American City , New York, 1971, is a convenient collection of the basic themes of urban economics and geography. Joseph D. McGoldrick, Seymour Graubard, and Raymond J. Horowitz, Building Regulation in New York City , New York, 1944, gives both the history of that city's reforms and offers references to the major past works. The story can be carried down to the present with National Commission on Urban Problems, Legal Remedies for Housing Code Violations, Research Report No. 14 , Frank P. Grad, ed., Washington, 1968; and this in turn should be considered in the light of George Sternlieb's perceptive Newark study of what happens to the law when the private market for land and housing collapses: Tenement Landlord , New Brunswick, 1966. The history of zoning has been well reviewed by Seymour I. Toll, The Zoned American , New York, 1969.