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BY CHARLES MULFORD ROBINSON

Modern Civic Art.

THE CITY MADE BEAUTIFUL.
Octavo. Third Revised Edition.
With 30 Full-page Illustrations.

Net, $3.00 (By mail, $3.25)

The Improvement of Towns and
Cities; or, THE PRACTICAL BASIS
OF Civic ESTHETICS. Cr. 8vo.
Eighth Printing. Fourth Revised
Edition.

Net, $1.25 (By mail, $1.35)

City Planning.

8. Fully illustrated.

Price, $2.50,

This book is written with special
reference to the planning of streets
and lots, and is of special im-
portance to the community because
of its value to the operator.




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CITY PLANNING

WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE

PLANNING OF STREETS AND LOTS



BY

CHARLES MULFORD ROBINSON

AUTHOR OF "MODERN civic ART," "THE IMPROVEMENT OF

TOWNS AND CITIES," ETC.



A reissue, revised, with much additional material, of the work
originally published under the title of

" The Width and Arrangement of Streets "



With 70 Illustrations



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
ZTbe Tknicfeerbocfeer press

1916



COPYRIGHT, 1916

BY
CHARLES MULFORD ROBINSON



tTbc Tkmcfccrbocfccr press, flew lt?orft



11 Town planning is the art of laying out cities to serve the

business requirements, convenience, health and comfort of the
public. It is guiding the growth of a village or city in con-
formity with a scientific design. It is adapting the physical
form of the city to the peculiar needs of its parts."

From a leaflet issued by the Minneapolis
Civic and Commerce Association.



PREFACE

A BOOK of this kind, whatever its other deficien-
cies, must not be one of fine-spun theory.
It must be practical, if it is to be serviceable.
It must depend for value upon what it can draw
from the experience of many cities in many nations,
and from the thoughts of many practitioners. It
must represent the slow fruition of years devoted,
not to introspective study, but to research in places
and books and records and among the men who
are doing the actual work of city building. There
seems, accordingly, to be special need of making
at the outset an acknowledgment of the principal
sources of its inspiration.

The author would be glad if he could make that
acknowledgment complete. To some extent the
reader, in noting the authorities quoted and some of
the pictures used, will perceive where thanks are
especially due. But even so he will not know how
hearty and generous, and how regardless of inter-
national boundaries, has been the co-operation ex-
tended.



vi Preface

For the rest, the writer is indebted to five special
sources of information, suggestion, and stimulus.
One has been the peculiar opportunity for intensive
observation which has come from the fact that during
recent years some thirty cities and towns, scattered
from the Atlantic coast to the mid-Pacific, have
called upon him to diagnose their particular needs
as regards the city plan. A second source was
Harvard University, where an invitation to be the
university's guest, for the prosecution of post-
graduate research work in city planning, through its
School of Landscape Architecture, gave an oppor-
tunity for more systematic reading than the dis-
tractions of professional life normally afford. A
third source was a European trip which differed from
its predecessors and successors in that, immediately
following the course of reading, it made its special
objective an international town planning conference
in London, where the general thesis of the volume,
having been formally presented, was subjected to
international criticism. That discussion was as
stimulating and helpful as it was kind.

A fourth source of assistance, as regards the present
volume, proved to be those college classrooms where
the first edition of the book came into use. This has
been especially true at the University of Illinois, the
author having himself been privileged to conduct
regular classes in it there. The questions and



Preface



Vll



discussions of the classroom during several years
have done at least as much for the author as they
could have done for the students.

Finally, and doubtless of more importance than
all the rest, has been the splendid and inspiring
progress which everywhere is taking place in the fast
unfolding science and eager practice of city building
progress in reasonableness, beauty, and fitness.

As a result of all this, the original book published
in 1911 as The Width and Arrangement of Streets, in
an edition which has been since exhausted has
been so amplified, revised, and rearranged that a
reader will not be impressed by the presence of the
old material. Yet it is all here though buried under
the new.

The book, as an exponent of the cause of more
rational methods of street platting, has definite
mission. But it is hoped that it will prove more
than simply propagandist. It is designed, in insist-
ence upon the less spectacular but more efficient
phases of city planning, to help in a practical way the
real estate platter be he owner, dealer, city engineer,
or landscape architect. Its theme is that in the
platting of streets he will best serve himself who
best serves his community. Thus it would promote
good housing.

Two words of explanation must be added, as to the
text, (i), The term "street" is used, it is hoped



Vlll



Preface



uniformly throughout the book, to refer to the whole
public space between the lines of the abutting prop-
erty on either side not to the roadway only. This
is in accordance with dictionary definitions and with
the ruling of American courts that "the street" is
understood to include the sidewalks. (2), The
section on City Planning Legislation, which is practi-
cally all new, seemed to be necessitated by the very
rapid growth in the United States of that phase of
the movement, and by the effectiveness of the
machinery which this phase is now making available,
not only for carrying out the city plan but for in-
suring better plans. When The Width and Arrange-
ment of Streets was published, only four years ago,
very little could be said on the subject of legislation.
Laws on the subject have now so multiplied that
their discussion here cannot be exhaustive. Yet it is
believed that the section touches upon the most
essential and suggestive of those measures which are
a product of the present town planning movement.

C. M. R.

ROCHESTER, N. Y.
July 30, 1915.



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE BOOK . 3
STANDARDIZATION IN STREET PLATTING

II. RECTANGULAR STREET PLATTING: ITS ORIGIN

AND JUSTIFICATION . . , ,.,, . 13

III. THE STANDARDIZING OF STREETS . . . 25

IV. ECONOMIC DEFECTS OF STANDARDIZATION . 38

V. SOCIAL DEFICIENCIES OF STANDARDIZATION . 52
FUNCTIONAL STREET PLATTING

VI. THE NEED, THE THEORY, AND ITS RATIONALE 67

VII. THE STREET SYSTEM'S NATURAL DIVISIONS . 80

VIII. THE LOCATION OF MAIN TRAFFIC STREETS . 90

IX. THE WIDTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF MAIN

TRAFFIC STREETS . . . . . 109

X. THE PLATTING OF MINOR RESIDENCE STREETS

FOR HIGH-CLASS DISTRICTS . . , 127

XI. THE PLATTING OF MINOR STREETS FOR HUMBLE

HOMES . . . . . . . 147

XII. LOT PLATTING FOR HUMBLE HOMES AND

FACTORY REMOVAL . > . . .163
ix



x Contents

CHAPTER PACK

XIII. PUBLIC RESERVATIONS OTHER THAN THE

STREETS ...... 182

XIV. THE DEVELOPMENT OF RESIDENTIAL STREETS 209
CITY PLANNING LEGISLATION

XV. CENTRALIZED CONTROL .... 229

XVI. CONTROL BEYOND CITY BOUNDARIES . . 247

XVII. EXCESS CONDEMNATION .... 255

XVIII. VARIOUS METHODS OF STREET WIDENING . 265

XIX. THE ZONING OR DISTRICTING SYSTEM . 277

CONCLUSION

XX. THE TEST OF CITY PLANNING LIMITATIONS

AND BENEFITS 291

APPENDIX 307

INDEX 327



ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

PLAN OF BRUSSELS IN 1572 , . . Frontispiece

TYPICAL INCREASE IN THE INTENSIVENESS OF THE USE
OF CITY LAND . . 4

PLAN BY WILLIAM PENN FOR THE CITY OF PHILA-
DELPHIA . . . .. . J . . ^ 18

THE LOT SUBDIVISION OF A TYPICAL NEW YORK CITY
BLOCK . . . . . . . 18

THE CHECKERBOARD PLAN WHICH WAS STAMPED ON THE
UNITED STATES BY THE GOVERNMENT SYSTEM OF
LAND SURVEYS : . . . . . , . 20

TYPICAL CHICAGO SUBDIVISIONS OF FIVE- ACRE TRACTS . 22
TYPICAL STREET OF A MEDIAEVAL TOWN . 28

A RECTANGULAR STREET SYSTEM'S DISREGARD OF EXIST-
ING ROADS AND BUILDINGS . . . t * 40

THE COST OF RIGIDITY OF PLAN ... . 40

STREETS ADJUSTED TO CONTOURS . . . 4 2

THE UNSYMPATHETIC PLAN OF A DOMESTIC STREET . 48

A GERMAN TYPE OF HANDSOME STREET ... 54

SACRIFICING COMFORT AND BEAUTY FOR WIDTH . 54

EXTRA SPACE FOR UNUSED ROAD LEAVES LITTLE SPACE
FOR MUCH USED GARDEN 58



xii Illustrations

PAGB

A CONVERTIBLE STREET, ON WHICH THE NARROW ROAD-
WAY CAN BE EASILY WIDENED WHEN OCCASION DE-
MANDS 58

THE CLOTH FAIR. MIDDLE STREET, LONDON . . 94
THE CLOTH FAIR. EAST PASSAGE, LONDON . . 94
HIGHWAYS LEADING INTO BOSTON . . . . 102

THEORETICAL PLAN OF THE TRAFFIC CIRCULATION OF
BERLIN 102

AN INTERSECTION OF IMPORTANT STREETS. . . 106

A DEVICE TO SECURE RIGHT-ANGLED STREET CROSS-
INGS WHERE A DIAGONAL THOROUGHFARE CROSSES
A GRIDIRON STREET PLAN . . . . .106

MAIN RADIAL THOROUGHFARES OF DIFFERENT WIDTHS . no

CAR-TRACKS ON A CENTRAL RESERVED STRIP IN A
RESIDENCE STREET . . . . . 114

CAR-TRACKS ON A CENTRAL RESERVED STRIP IN A
BUSINESS STREET . . . . . .114

D. B. NIVEN'S PLAN FOR A GREAT HIGHWAY FOR LONDON 1 18
TWO-LEVEL STREET ON THE WATERFRONT . .122

RETAINING THE CHARM OF THE COUNTRY IN THE STREET
LAYOUT .."".' 128

FITTING THE PLAN TO THE CONTOURS . . .134
TWO-LEVEL STREET IN A RESIDENCE SECTION . . 135
THE STREET PLAN OF FOREST HILLS GARDENS . 138

THE EFFECT OF PLACING MONUMENTAL STRUCTURES ON
OR OFF GRADE SUMMIT 142

A QUIET RESIDENCE SECTION NEAR A LARGE CITY . 142



Illustrations xiii

PAGE

A PLAN FOR A HIGH-CLASS SUBDIVISION WHICH is TYPI-
CAL H4

PLAN FOR AN EMPLOYEES' RESIDENCE SECTION ON THE

OUTSKIRTS OF A CITY . . ".."' . . . 154

ALLOTMENT GARDENS IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLOCK . 168

AN ARRANGEMENT FOR COMMUNITY TENNIS COURTS . 168

THE PLACING OF THE HOUSE ON THE LOT . ' . 171

WARDING OFF THE TENEMENT . . . . . 174
THE TENEMENT AT ITS BEST . .- . . .174

ATTRACTIVE AND INEXPENSIVE STREETS OF THE KRUPP
VILLAGES NEAR ESSEN, GERMANY . . . .. .179

ATTRACTIVE AND INEXPENSIVE STREETS OF THE KRUPP

VILLAGES NEAR ESSEN, GERMANY . . . . 180

WHERE A STREET WOULD BE EXPENSIVE BUT A PARK

WOULD BE CHEAP. . , ; . . . 185

A DEVELOPMENT THAT WAS ECONOMICAL AS WELL AS

BEAUTIFUL . . . > . . . . . 185

A HILLSIDE STREET WIDENED INTO AN OUTLOOK POINT 194

LOCATING THE PLAYGROUND INSIDE THE BLOCK . 194

AN INSIDE PARK IN HIGH-CLASS RESIDENCE PROPERTY . 196

A CITY PROMENADE THE NEW WALK AT LEICESTER,

ENGLAND . ; . . . . . V . 200

CENTRE PARKING PLANTED WITH FLOWERING TREES . 202
A NEW TYPE OF MINOR STREET RESIDENCE IN A HIGH-
CLASS SECTION .. . > 210

STREET WITH A TURN AT THE END . . . .212

THE GRASS GUTTER 213



xiv Illustrations

PAGE

A CONTRAST IN WALK LOCATION . . . .216
A GRASS BORDER PLANTED WITH SHRUBS . . .216

A PRIVATE DRIVEWAY BREAKS THE LEVEL OF THE WALK,
WHEN THE WALK is NEXT TO THE CURB . .217

A WALK AT HIGHER LEVEL THAN THE ROAD . .217
A SIDEWALK ON ONE SIDE ONLY . . . . 218

WHERE THERE is LITTLE WALKING ONE SIDEWALK MAY
BE ENOUGH . . ... . . . 218

SIDEWALK INFORMALITY . . . . . ,219
THE ECONOMY OF AN ELEVATED SIDEWALK . > 220

How FOOTPATH ENTRANCES MIGHT BE MARKED.
(THREE VIEWS) . . . - .221

ECONOMY OF THE FOOTPATH WHEN THE GROUND
SLOPES ABRUPTLY. (Two VIEWS) . . , 222

ENTRANCE TO VANDEVENTER PLACE, ST. Louis . . 224
A CITY STREET IN A TRANSITION STAGE . . . 272
ZONE PLAN OF COLOGNE AND ITS SUBURBS 282



Introduction



CHAPTER I

THE PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE BOOK

TOWN planning includes three operations. The
term is applied to the replanning of existing
cities and towns, to the planning of new
towns, and to a scientific platting of new sections of
existing towns. The benefits that are sought by it
are, in their turn, speaking broadly, three in number.
They are an improvement in those circulatory con-
ditions created by indirect streets and congested
traffic, the betterment of social conditions in many
directions notably in that of housing, and an in-
crease in the visible beauty and splendour of cities.
Under these headings, gains are anticipated in econo-
my, efficiency, health, comfort, and looks.

Of the three town planning operations, those which
have to do with the planning of new towns and with
the scientific platting of new sections of existing
towns, are so akin that they are usually grouped.
Their purpose, as respects typical urban evils, is pre-
ventive. Thus we have city planning's two main
divisions: The remedial effort, in town replanning;

3



4 City Planning

and the preventive. Because of the many benefits
expected from city planning, the demand for it
has become far spread and vigorous. The belief is
that in anticipatory work the proverbial ounce of
prevention may be reasonably expected to be worth
at least the pound of cure.

The typical conditions which are to be corrected
or forestalled by scientific planning include, spe-
cifically, those of streets filled with a traffic which they
are unable to carry with safety and speed; are the
housing of the poor amid surroundings injurious to
moral, physical, and civic well-being; are the loss of
opportunities for free and healthful recreation, on the
part of adults as well as of children; are the lessening
of industrial and commercial efficiency; the incon-
venient location and the undignified crowding of
public buildings; the higher cost of corrective as
compared with preventive measures, and an economic
waste resulting from instability in the character of
neighbourhoods. To do away with such conditions
as these is the high purpose of the replanning of cities
and towns, or of their careful planning at the start,
and of a platting of their outlying sections which
deals with those sections not as isolated units but as
parts of a whole.

It is clear that all these plans, town or city plans
as they have come to be known, have to do with the
urban framework, as this is made up of streets,





A ^LOCJCIK CLEVE.LAND OHIO
TYPICAL INCREASE IN THE INTENSIVENESS OF THE USE OF CITY LAND
A BLOCK IN CLEVELAND, AT DIFFERENT PERIODS.



The Purpose and Scope of the Book 5

avenues, and open spaces of one sort and another.
They may be said to treat of the skeleton of the city,
of that which gives to the city its constructional form;
and the expectation is that they will be determined by
the needs, not of districts, but of the whole com-
munity. With such details as billboards, overhead
wires, even with the exact makes of pavement, such
plans primarily have little to do.

The advantages, which the plans are intended
to bring to the community as a whole, should accrue
to individuals of the community, irrespective of
whether they are owners of land or are tenants. In
the present state of society, land division projects
which might do injury to landowners and home
builders are not worth considering, even though they
should be, conceivably, for the good of a non-property-
owning class. To be practical, town planning pro-
jects must be reasonable and considerate of all proper
interests, whether they deal with the built-up portions
of the city or with its outer fringe. We have to
remember that "the idealism which is not practical is
not ideal. "

It is with plans that have to do with the outer
circuit of the city, with that belt which the influence
of the city's growth is transforming into suburban
property and absorbing for residence purposes, that
this book will attempt particularly to deal. The
subject may seem restricted, but it is to be observed



6 City Planning

that the city has no financial investment so large as
that represented in its streets usually twenty-five
to forty per cent, of the whole land area and that
no items in its expenses reach a larger total than
those for the construction and maintenance of streets. 1
Still more important, the streets' location and devel-
opment touch closely the life of every person who
lives in town. In fact,

the most important features of city planning, [it has been well
said,] 2 are not the public buildings, not the railroad approaches,
not even the parks and playgrounds. They are the location of
streets, the establishment of block lines, the subdivision of
property into lots, the regulations of buildings, and the housing
of the people.

In discussing the platting of streets, it has seemed
necessary to plead for less standardization, for wider
main streets, and for the narrowing of those which
have little traffic value. As the first and third
points of the discussion have received in the past but
scant popular consideration, the author has thought
best to focus particular attention upon them. No
claim is made to originality in the ideas, or that the
arguments of economy and of social and functional
adjustment will be novel to those who most have

1 In New York City, where the typical platting devotes but 30% of the
total area to streets, it was stated in 1913 that there were, in that one city,
"2677 miles of streets," of which the estimated value, including the im-
provements, "was $9,469,000,000 one-fourth of the value of all the farm
land in the United States."

3 John Nolen in Madison: A Model City.



The Purpose and Scope of the Book 7

studied town and city planning. It is hoped, how-
ever, that they may prove helpful in suggestion to
some who, without previous opportunity for extended
study, are taking in hand, in the platting of sub-
divisions, the actual work of city extension.

An attempt has been made, while presenting the
matter simply, to look at the problem broadly and
honestly. This has rendered it impossible to disre-
gard widely prevailing methods or to consider the
residence street alone. In the outer rim of cities the
minor street is dependent for its life upon transporta-
tion facilities, and these must be offered by main high-
ways. Thus, in order to take the broad view, much
must be considered besides the problem of a street
by itself. One street, though every perfection were
given to it, would bear only such relation to the whole
street system as would a patch on an old-fashioned
and outgrown garment.

It might be said, indeed, that the average modern
city has in its street system a garment so restricting
it as to need entire replanning and recutting to make
it comfortably serviceable and really up-to-date.
Until this fact is recognized, all civic improvement
work can be hardly more than an attempt to adapt
an ancient and wornout city form to new and tre-
mendously insistent municipal requirements. Most
significant is such a reflection. It means that
however important civic improvement may be, it



8 City Planning

does not strike at fundamentals until it deals with
the street plan. The same is true of slum eradication
and of housing reform. "To place housing before
town planning, " a writer has said, "is to sew on your
buttons before you cut out your cloth. " r

While all this is strongly believed, there is no
wish to emphasize unduly the current widespread
town planning movement. The book is presented,
on the contrary, with the hope that it may be of
value in the course of normal and ordinary city
development. Hence the purpose of the volume is
not to give the history of town planning, not to con-
trast the romantic and classical schools of it, but
simply to help in a practical way regarding one
important phase of it a phase which concerns not
merely every owner of real estate but every citizen.
And since the main arguments represent not the
faith and theory of one man only, but the belief of
the students of town and city planning in all nations
which are considering the subject, the book's message
is given with abounding confidence.

It is not surprising that there is need for a book on
the platting of streets. In the last fifty years cities
have undergone more change than in the preceding
two thousand. This is partly due to the removal of
the encircling walls with which old-world cities were
encompassed for defense. It is more largely due to

1 Editorial in The Town Planning Review, July, 1912.



The Purpose and Scope of the Book 9

the rise of manufacturing, to the growth of traffic,
and to that development in the means of transporta-
tion which has permitted the cities' wide extension.
George Washington, it has been pointed out, had
no other means of transport than had Homer
the legs of man and horse, oars, and the sail. One
is impressed by contrasting a busy street of modern
London with the same street of a hundred years
ago, when once a week the lumbering stage coach
woke echoes that had slept for many days and then
would sleep again. A new, insistent, and complicated
demand has been made upon the streets of cities;
and it is little wonder that there has developed a
possibility of improving on the first impulsive attempt
at its satisfaction.

Yet, though the author has endeavoured to make
his criticisms constructive, he realizes that rules to
govern generally town development are most difficult
to enunciate. In recent years, the curse of city
building has been too much adherence to fixed rules.
In cities of different purposes as industrial, com-
mercial, capital, or residential different groups of
considerations deserve most deference; in cities of
like purpose, no one street pattern should be gen-
erally applied. To impose on a site, without regard
to its topography, any preconceived system, is to be
false to the true principle of design.

So, finally, the book is presented with no illusion



io City Planning

as to its providing a panacea for every anatomical
ill that towns are heir to. But perhaps to stretch
the patent medicine simile a little further it may
have an invigorating tonic value. There are some
things as to street platting which it were better for the
city, better for the tract developer, and better for the
lot buyer or tenant to have more clearly understood.
The author has endeavoured to state these. With
that purpose, Chapters III-VI, inclusive, con-
sider the defects appertaining to the usual present
practice of street design and the advantages that
must accrue from a closer adjustment to function.
Thereafter come constructive suggestions, and then
there is a resume of the legal devices to promote wiser
planning.

The latter is a record of achievement, and to that
extent is full of encouragement. Not only shall we
see that the common manner of street platting is
wasteful and irrational, but we shall find that gradu-
ally a better system has been evolved, and that in
law and ordinance we are swiftly gaining the power
to realize it. In these facts, as will be some day
better appreciated, there are good tidings for millions
of people.



Standardization in Street Platting



CHAPTER II

RECTANGULAR STREET PLATTING! ITS ORIGIN AND
JUSTIFICATION

BEFORE we theorize as to an ideal system of
street platting, it is proper to consider the
very widely accepted present plan of streets
that cross each other at right angles in a monotonous
and regular pattern. Presumption must be strongly
in favour of such a plan. It is simple, is easy to design,
is readily understandable, and is capable of indefinite
extension. Furthermore, and this is exceedingly
important, it is economical of building area both
in the amount which is rendered available and in the
shape of the plats. Finally, the plan has been in use
so long that its origin is lost in the uncertain dawn of
history. If there were a plan that is better, would
not the world have discovered it long ago?

When one considers the tremendous stakes
financial, social, and civic that are at issue in deter-
mining the street plan of a city, is it not reasonable to
think that the problem must have had earnest study?
May we not feel sure that the plan which the old

13



14 City Planning

world started and which the new world, accepting,
applied with in tenser rigour, is the best plan practi-
cable? Clearly, the burden of proof is upon those
who would criticize it.

The origin of the rectangular plan goes back, it
has been said, to the dawn of history. Rectangular,


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