Historic Examples of 'Urbanism Without Government'

We’ve all heard the question “but who will build the roads?” put to libertarians. In a recent article, Emily Washington examines historic examples of urban settings that developed without the guidance of a government.
Céline / Flickr

Emily Washington starts her survey in Pennsylvania, which was without a taxation from 1684 to 1691: “One of the country’s oldest continually occupied streets is Philadelphia’s Elfreth’s Alley. It was dedicated in 1702, shortly after this period of complete anarchy and served as a route to connect local merchants’ property with the already thriving Second Street.”

Two blacksmiths, John Gilbert and Arthur Wells, owned the land where the street was built, which they donated for the street for the good of their business. “Their actions demonstrate the power of cooperation for mutual gain, but it’s also notable that streets built with donated land are likely to be narrow…”

Washington also explores Victorian England as an example of “rapid urban growth under very limited government,” which also produced very narrow roads—not the interstate highway system, Washington acknowledges, but “charming, functional streets that endure centuries.”

Full Story: Urbanism without government

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