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Residential area in Helena, Montana, USA
Suburban slum in Bhutan

A residential area is a land use in which housing predominates, as opposed to industrial and commercial areas. Housing may vary significantly between, and through, residential areas. These include single-family housing, multi-family residential, or mobile homes. Zoning for residential use may permit some services or work opportunities or may totally exclude business and industry. It may permit high density land use or only permit low density uses. Residential zoning usually includes a smaller FAR (floor area ratio) than business, commercial or industrial/manufacturing zoning. The area may be large or small.


In certain residential areas, largely rural, large tracts of land may have no services whatever, thus residents seeking services must use a motor vehicle or other transport, so the need for transport has resulted in land development following existing or planned transport infrastructure such as rail and road. Development patterns may be regulated by restrictive covenants contained in the deeds to the properties in the development, and may also result from or be reinforced by zoning. Restrictive covenants are not easily changed when the agreement of all property owners (many of whom may not live in the area) is required. The area so restricted may be large or small.

Residential areas may be subcategorized in the Concentric zone model and other schemes of urban geography.

Residential development[edit]

New inner city residences in Manhattan
Residential area in Brooklyn about a century after it was developed

Residential development is real estate development for residential purposes. Some such developments are called a subdivision, when the land is divided into lots with houses constructed on each lot. Such developments became common during the late nineteenth century, particularly in the form of streetcar suburbs.

In previous centuries, residential development was mainly of two kinds. Rich people bought a townlot, hired an architect and/or contractor, and built a bespoke / customized house or mansion for their family. Poor urban people lived in shantytowns or in tenements built for rental. Single-family houses were seldom built on speculation, that is for future sale to residents not yet identified. When cities and the middle class expanded greatly and mortgage loans became commonplace, a method that had been rare became commonplace to serve the expanding demand for home ownership.

Post–World War II economic expansion in major cities of the United States, especially New York City and Los Angeles produced a demand for thousands of new homes, which was largely met by speculative building. Its large-scale practitioners disliked the term "property speculator" and coined the new name "residential development" for their activity. Entire farms and ranches were subdivided and developed, often with one individual or company controlling all aspects of entitlement (permits), land development (streets and grading), infrastructure (utilities and sewage disposal), and housing. Communities like Levittown, Long Island or Lakewood south of Los Angeles saw new homes sold at unprecedented rates—more than one a day. Many techniques which had made the automobile affordable made housing affordable: standardization of design and small, repetitive assembly tasks, advertising, and a smooth flow of capital. Mass production resulted in a similar uniformity of product, and a more comfortable lifestyle than cramped apartments in the cities. With the advent of government-backed mortgages, it could actually be cheaper to own a house in a new residential development than to rent.

Minor entrance monument, early 20th century

As with other products, continual refinements appeared. Curving streets, greenbelt parks, neighborhood pools, and community entry monumentation appeared. Diverse floor plans with differing room counts, and multiple elevations (different exterior "looks" for the same plan) appeared. Developers remained competitive with each other on everything, including location, community amenities, kitchen appliance packages, and price.

Today, a typical residential development in the United States might include traffic calming features, such as a slowly winding street, dead-end road, or looped road lined with homes.

Suburban developments help form the stereotypical image of a "suburban America," and are generally associated with the American middle-class. Most offer homes in a narrow range of age, price, size and features, thus potential residents having different needs, wishes or resources must look elsewhere. Some residential developments are gated communities.

Problems with residential developments[edit]

Criticisms of residential developments may include:

  • They do not mesh well with the greater community. Some are isolated, with only one entrance, or otherwise connected with the rest of the community in few ways.
  • Being commuter towns, they serve no more purpose for the greater community than other specialized settlements do, and thus require residents to go to the greater community for commercial or other purposes. Whereas mixed-use developments provide for commerce and other activities, thus residents need not go as often to the greater community.

Additional reading[edit]

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of residential at Wiktionary

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residential_area — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

298407 news items

Times of India
Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:45:00 -0800

Panic also spread among those living in surrounding houses, given that it was congested residential area. Alerted, teams from four police stations, Baranagar, Belghoria, Khardah and Dum Dum, arrived and cordoned off the area. After the fire brigade was ...

Detroit Free Press

Sat, 13 Feb 2016 08:41:15 -0800

MENOMINEE, Mich. (AP) -- An experimental helicopter had to make an emergency landing in a residential area of Menominee on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The pilot was flying alone and walked away without serious injury after the Friday morning crash.
Eatonton Messenger
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 04:33:45 -0800

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Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:33:45 -0800

An Indonesian Air Force aircraft has crashed onto houses in Malang city, East Java, Indonesia on Wednesday. According to local media, one person has been killed. Residents have been evacuated from the area. The two crewmembers managed to eject ...

NW Evening Mail

NW Evening Mail
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 04:08:27 -0800

UPDATED: Power cut hits residential area of Barrow. SHARE THIS STORY. 12 February 2016 12:06PM. A NUMBER of houses in Barrow have been affected by a power cut. Properties in and around Hawcoat Lane were understood to be without power ...
Tulsa World
Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:57:35 -0800

BIXBY — A grassfire Monday afternoon in a residential neighborhood just across the street to the south of Bixby North Elementary School didn't turn into a threat to the school, an official says. Mike Anthony, chief financial officer, said the district ...

Nottingham Post

Nottingham Post
Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:13:07 -0800

"This is a residential area, extremely densely populated and the vehicle turned right again, hitting speed humps so red sparks were visible from the underside of the vehicle," she told the court. "Near Radford Road, there was a 'give way' sign and the ...

Tulsa World

Tulsa World
Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:52:30 -0800

Broken Arrow Firefighter Jesse Bain (left), and Cpt. Joe Annan return their equipment to their fire truck after battling a grass fire in a neighborhood near 131st and Garnett in Broken Arrow, Okla., taken on February 8, 2016, the fire burned through ...

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