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This title is out of print. Copies for sale are from our archives and/or are late returns from bookstores.


Subsequent editions of this book have been published by SIU Press.


“Only in Chicago can zoning be epic. From the nuisance laws of the 19th century targeting Chicago’s notorious filth to its cutting-edge new code, this meticulously researched book chronicles the use of zoning as both handmaiden for the just and tool for the self-serving. City planners and urban historians will delight in the colorful tale of how a city’s backbone—and zoning is indeed Chicago’s backbone—supports its broad shoulders.”

—Michael Davidson, Editor, Zoning Practice, American Planning Association


Only in Chicago Can Zoning Be Epic


Chicago is renowned for its distinctive skyline, its bustling Loop business district, and its diverse neighborhoods. How the face of Chicago came to be is a story of enterprise, ingenuity, opportunity—and zoning. Until now, however, there has not been a book that focuses on the important, often surprising, role of zoning in shaping the “The City that Works.”


The Politics of Place: A History of Zoning in Chicago reviews the interplay among development, planning, and zoning in the growth of the Gold Coast, the Central Area, and, more recently, massive “Planned Developments,” such as Marina City, Illinois Center, and Dearborn Park. It tells the story of bold visions compromised by political realities, battles between residents and developers, and occasional misfires from City Council and City Hall.  


What emerges is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes inspection of the evolving character of the city’s landscape. Schwieterman and Caspall recount the many planning innovations that have originated in Chicago, the complexities and intrigue of its zoning debates, and the recent adoption of a new zoning ordinance that promises to affect the city’s economy and image for years to come.   


Chicago’s skyline is a testament to the city’s famed architects and legendary developers and to its role as a major commercial hub. Yet the city’s silhouette also speaks to the legacy of zoning . . .


The Politics of Place a History of Zoning in Chicago is written by a highly credible team with impressive academic credentials and extensive practical experience. The research for this book is thorough. The documentation is impressive. Schwieterman and Caspall have given us extraordinary insight into the personality of Chicago’s creative leadership as well as the dynamic growth resulting from their efforts.  Perhaps of greater significance, zoning is shown to be an important planning tool that is given the attention it deserves for the first time.”

—Miles Berger, author of They Built Chicago, Entrepreneurs Who Shaped a Great City’s Architecture

Politics of Place

  • Authors: Joseph P. Schwieterman and Dana M. Caspall

    Imprint: Lake Claremont Press

    ISBN: 978-1893121-26-3

    Pub Date: 2006

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