This chapter covered the history of planning in the United States, from the colonial period to the end of the 1920s and the onset of the Great Depression. The Constitution makes no direct mention of substate units of government. Thus municipalities became "creatures of the state," exercising only those powers granted them by the states. The Constitution also expanded the rights of individuals with regard to property rights and due process. The combined effect was to reduce greatly the power of municipalities to control the use and development of land within their boundaries. Early nineteenth-century urban growth thus often occurred with a minimum of planning and public control. The crowding, ugliness, and haphazard development of many nineteenth- century cities gave birth to a series of reform movements, which shape to the present day much of the agenda of planning in the United States.
Among the movements discussed were sanitary reform, the movement to secure urban open space, the movement for housing reform, the municipal improvement movement, the municipal art movement, and the City Beautiful movement. The Columbian Exposition of 1893 is often considered to mark the birth of the City Beautiful movement. The 1909 Plan of Chicago marked the beginning of the age of modern city planning and shaped the ideas of planners, politicians, and citizens about what a comprehensive plan should be and how it should be implemented.
The tradition of public control of the use of privately owned land evolved slowly, in part because of constitutional questions involved in the "taking" issue. However, by about the time of World War I, the right of local governments to exercise substantial control over the use of private property was reasonably well established. Post-World War I suburbanization, facilitated by a rapid expansion in automobile ownership, propelled hundreds of communities into zoning and master planning. The same period also saw the beginnings of regional planning as the automobile dispersed jobs and residences, creating vast urban regions.