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Gates, Walls and other forms of Racial Space


Putting up the Gates

 By Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder


Gated communities provoke impassioned reactions from supporters and critics alike. In their book, Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States, to be published in October by the Brookings Institution Press, we question the ability of this increasingly pervasive design tool to meet its security goals and strengthen the sense of community in America.


Over eight million Americans have sought refuge from crime and other problems of urbanization by installing gates and fences to limit access to their communities – and their numbers are growing. Since the mid-1980s, gates have become ubiquitous in many areas of the country. New towns are routinely built with gated villages, and some entire incorporated cities feature guarded entrances. Along with the trend toward gating in new residential developments, existing neighborhoods are increasingly installing barricades and gates to seal themselves off.

 Full Article: http://blakelycitytalk.squarespace.com/storage/Gated%20Communities%20Shelterforce%20feshrith.pdf





Separate Places: Crime and Security in Gated Communities


Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder


 This era of dramatic demographic, economic, and social changes brings with it a growing crisis of future expectations. Many feel vulnerable, unsure of their place and their communities in the face of rapid change. This feeling is reflected in an increasing fear of crime unrelated to actual trends and to the growing number of methods used to control the physical environment for both social and economic security. The phenomenon of walled cities and gated communities is a dramatic manifestation of a new fortress mentality growing in America.

Gated communities are residential areas with restricted access that makes normally public spaces private. Access is controlled by physical barriers, walled or fenced perimeters, and gated or guarded entrances. Gated communities include both new housing developments and older residential areas retrofitted with barricades and fences. They represent a phenomenon different from apartment or condominium buildings with security systems or doormen. There, a doorman precludes public access only to a lobby or hallways-the private space within a building. Gated communities preclude public access to roads, sidewalks, parks, open space, and playgrounds-all resources that in earlier eras would have been open and accessible to all citizens of a locality. The best estimate is that 2.5 million American families have already sought out this new refuge from the problems of urbanization, and their numbers are growing.


“Divided We Fall: Gated and Walled Communities in the United States”

by Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder

from: Blakely, Edward J., and Mary Gail Snyder. “Divided We Fall: Gated and Walled

Communities in the United States.”

Architectural Press, 1997.

The Gating of the American Mind

It has been over three decades since this nation legally outlawed all forms of discrimination in housing, education, public transportation, and public accommodations. Yet today, we are seeing a new form of discrimination—the gated, walled, private community. Americans are electing to live behind walls with active security mechanisms to prevent intrusion into their private domains.

Increasingly, a frightened middle class that moved to escape school integration and to secure appreciating housing values now must move to maintain their economic advantage. The American middle class is forting up.

Gated communities are residential areas with restricted access such that normally public spaces have been privatized. These developments are both new suburban developments and older innercity areas retrofitted to provide security. We are not discussing apartment buildings with guards or doormen. In essence, we are interested in the newest form of fortified community that places security and protection as its primary feature. We estimate that eight million many more Americans are seeking this new refuge from the problems of urbanization.

Economic segregation is scarcely new. In fact, zoning and city planning were designed in part to preserve the position of the privileged by subtle variances in building and density codes. But the gated communities go further in several respects: they create physical barriers to access, and they privatize community space, not merely individual space. Many of these communities also privatize civic responsibilities, such as police protection, and communal services, such as education, recreation, and entertainment. The new developments create a private world that shares little with its neighbors or the larger political system. This fragmentation undermines the very concept of civitas, organized community life.

The forting-up phenomenon has enormous policy consequences. By allowing some citizens to internalize and to exclude others from sharing in their economic privilege, it aims directly at the conceptual base of community and citizenship in America. The old notions of community mobility are torn apart by these changes in community patterns. What is the measure of nationhood when the divisions between neighborhoods require armed patrols and electric fencing to keep out other citizens? When public services and even local government are privatized, when the community of responsibility stops at the subdivision gates, what happens to the function and the very idea of democracy? In short, can this nation fulfill its social contract in the absence of social contact?



Architecture of Fear. Nan Ellin, ed. New York: Princeton1 and potentially

Fulll Article: http://blakelycitytalk.squarespace.com/gated-comm/