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By Robert M. Fogelson

The indispensable American suburbs, with their gracious single-family houses, huge eco-friendly lawns, and leaf-shaded streets, mirrored not just citizens’ goals yet nightmares, not just hopes yet fears: worry of others, of racial minorities and lowincome teams, worry of themselves, worry of the industry, and, specifically, worry of switch. those fears, and the restrictive covenants that embodied them, are the topic of Robert M. Fogelson’s attention-grabbing new book.As Fogelson finds, suburban subdividers tried to deal with the deep-seated fears of undesirable switch, specially the encroachment of “undesirable” humans and actions, through implementing a variety of regulations at the plenty. those regulations ranged from mandating minimal expenses and architectural types for the homes to forbidding the vendors to promote or rent their estate to any member of a bunch of racial, ethnic, and spiritual teams. those regulations, lots of that are nonetheless typically hired, let us know as a lot concerning the complexities of yankee society this day as approximately its complexities a century in the past.

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21 Restrictive covenants soon made their way from England to America. During the second half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, some property owners used them to preserve their fashionable neighborhoods as ‘‘quiet and desirable places of abode,’’ in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s words. Boston’s Lewisburg Square was one example, New York’s Gramercy Park another. A few subdividers also used them, said Judge William T. ’’ With one or two exceptions, restrictive covenants were used to keep out ‘‘undesirable’’ activities more than ‘‘undesirable’’ people.

It depends, said Judge Edmund W. ’’ Would the horses give off ‘‘offensive odors’’? It depends, he wrote, on how many were used, where they were kept, and how they were cared for. , pointed out, nothing was more offensive to ‘‘the better class’’ of residential suburbs than manufacturing establishments. Even if the courts were willing to issue an injunction after one was up and running—which, in view of the capital already invested, was highly unlikely—the damage would already have been done. The factory would have set in motion the forces that would lead inevitably to the deterioration of the residential environment.

They made sure that no nearby buildings would deteriorate by making sure that there would be no buildings nearby. One case in point was Woodburne, the estate of William Minot, who was reputedly Boston’s largest landowner. Another was Druim Moir, the home of Henry Howard Houston, a very wealthy Philadelphia businessman, investor, and railroad director. Even more impressive than Woodburne and Druim Moir were the huge estates, many with hundred-room mansions (and their own golf courses and race tracks), that were built on Long Island’s North Shore by the Pratts, Vanderbilts, Guggenheims, and other magnates.

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