Another factor in the housing situation is found in the unintelligent method of subdividing property that has prevailed in most of our cities until recent years. The prevailing method of laying out a city is what is known as the "grid-iron" plan. Cities have generally been laid out on rectangular lines, and property has been subdivided without much regard to the kind of use which was to be made of it.
In fact, until very recently - until the advent of the so-called Zoning movement in the United States - it has not been possible to predict with any degree of accuracy or finality just how a given part of a city would be used. Property has been laid out so that it would be susceptible of almost any use, either for residence purposes, for commercial purposes or for manufacturing purposes, and lots have been narrow and deep. The result has been that it has been practically impossible to design the right kind of a home on such a lot. For, being narrow and deep, it has not been possible to leave a sufficient amount of open space on all four sides of the house. Consequently, where open space has been left at each side of the house in what is known as side yards, these spaces have generally been very inadequate in width, often as narrow as three feet, furnishing neither adequate light nor ventilation, but serving often as unpleasant pockets of barren land which often have become receptacles for cast-off materials, especially in the workingmen's quarters of the town.