Zoning and diversity in historical perspective

Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The notion of urban diversity is a key component of successful urbanism. It is ironic that the rules of citymaking-in particular, zoning-came to be associated with the near antithesis of diversity. Instead of promoting the mixing of people and uses, zoning produced just the opposite. While the history of zoning and its negative effects on urban diversity are widely known, the history of this association is more complex than is generally reported. This article sheds light on the connection between zoning and diversity from a new, historically informed perspective. The author contends that, although zoning was used for exclusionary purposes, the original thinking about zoning was often more nuanced with regard to diversity and mix than most critics of zoning allow. The author presents an historical review of what the original framers of zoning thought about the mixing of people and land uses in cities, and what their motivations were. The author concludes with an assessment of current zoning reform efforts in light of this history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-347
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Planning History
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Codes
  • Diversity
  • Zoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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