Re-Imagining Property: The Rise of the Real Estate Business in Early Modern London

Authors: Patrice Derrington*, Columbia University, Brett McMillan*, Columbia University
Topics: Development, Business Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Property, Real Estate
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Palladian, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In seeking to understand the impact of private real estate development on urban environments, it may be useful to turn towards a more granular picture of the agents behind development projects: who are they (corporations, individuals, tradesmen; speculators or builders), and how might their objectives, and therefore processes and products, differ with respect to their impact on neighborhoods and communities? To begin to explore such questions, this paper looks back to 17th-century London, a city whose extraordinary urban growth – not dissimilar to many urban centers today – gave rise to an unprecedented variety of developers with unique development strategies, from entrepreneurial aristocrats to merchant builders, speculative businessmen, and small-scale householders seeking to earn additional income by offering space to lodgers. These developments, and their relation to England’s transition from an agrarian, feudal order to a trade-based, early globalized economy, produced a resultant matrix of dramatic socio-economic changes whose import has since been a critical point of analysis for the likes of Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Karl Polanyi, Vanessa Harding, Ian Archer, and Andro Linklater, among others. By engaging with the interplay of those socioeconomic analyses; by marking key distinctions between different developers and their respective developments in early modern London; and by critically analyzing the socio-economic impacts of each, this paper offers a more comprehensive framework for understanding the urban consequences of private real estate development. In stepping beyond conflicting economic ideologies, this research hopes to better contextualize and confront the socio-economic inequalities of our built environment.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login