Mapping Morals

One of my works-in-progress is researching the origin and implication of morals in zoning.

A. J. Downing (the US’s first landscape architect), Catherine Beecher (educator and sister to Harriet Beecher Stowe), and Frederick Law Olmsted (landscape architect and creator of NYC’s Central Park) were among the 19th-Century writers who extolled the moral and uplifting influence of the home. By home they meant a version of a detached, single-family dwelling where the wife stays at home to care for the kids, clean the house, and provide meals for the husband, who goes off during the day to conduct his business far from the hearth.

This “moral” single-family dwelling is a foundation stone upon which zoning codes in the US are still built. Many codes site this morality as one of the fundamental purposes of zoning. The map below presents a growing sample of those zoning codes.

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