Document Type



Joseph Parker Prize Paper (C. Priest, N. Parrillo, J. Witt) (best paper on a subject connected with legal history or Roman law)


There is a default assumption in the field of urban legal history that systematic, coordinated action is superior to individualized, haphazard action when it comes to decisions about town planning and local land policy. Economic historians of colonial towns and institutions view the informality of early planning as an anomaly and a flaw; they argue that their irregular property systems were inefficient and failed to stimulate local land markets. In contrast, they argue that comprehensive plans and rectangular layouts facilitated land markets, which was beneficial for the settlements that adopted them. Theorists who agree with this assumption argue that the upfront costs of comprehensive planning are justified because they reduce the significant transactions costs caused by irregular plans and layouts.

Date of Authorship for this Version

Spring 2011