A Brief History of Gated Communities

 


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There was a time in the long ago past of the human race when we lived in secure private communities. They were called caves. They were surrounded by large stone walls, and the only access to them was through a single narrow gate. The gate was guarded by a big burly fellow whose purpose was to make sure that the only people, or animals that came inside were the ones that belonged there. This concept of living served us for a very, very long time, and there is no doubt that deep inside the collective memories of our species, there is a longing to return to that warm fuzzy feeling of the cave. You knew that there was much unknown, and great danger outside, but inside you were free to live, enjoy the company of people who were pretty much just like you, and raise your kids safely.

There were not enough good livable caves to support the population growth of mankind. Eventually we had to find another way. Right from the start, settlements outside of the cave were protected by some sort of barrier, with access limited and controlled. As time went on, and the population continued to increase, we began to build the first cities, with thick stone walls, and gates to control entry.

The idea of a gated community inside the walls of the city began early. This double protection was something that was pretty much restricted to the very wealthy. The smaller walls around neighborhoods inside the thicker walls of the city served not only to protect the residents, but was the beginning of the idea of exclusion. When the smaller gated communities began to add some basic amenities such as markets and schools behind their guarded gates, it served more to isolate them from the “others’ outside more than any other reason.

In recent times, the rapidly exploding population and the advent of bomber aircraft, and ballistic missiles have made the city wall obsolete. The city, no longer contained by stone, expanded and spread. The need for housing, and the increasing crowding and crime associated with inner cities led to the creation of suburbs. These sprawling bedroom communities became the new population center, and at first, the residents felt a strong sense of safety there. The suburban communities also provided the shared amenities that had marked the cities. Schools and markets were close. Recreational facilities were close. Crime was far away.

The wealthy still had that sense of exlusiveness, and this led to the first of the modern gated communities in the suburbs. The first ones consisted of large estates surrounded by stone walls, but most importantly they had limited access. This was accomplished by either manned or unmanned gates. They were also mostly residential in nature, with markets, schools, and even parks, being located outside the walls. There was another trend growing in the suburbs and being fueled by the advent of mass media. Televisions were bringing the violence and crime of the entire nation into people's living rooms, and eroding the sense of safety and security. They began to realize that they were not as secure as they had thought, and the time became ripe for private communities for the middle class.

Natalie Aranda writes on family, home and history. The idea of a gated community inside the walls of the city began early. This double protection was something that was pretty much restricted to the very wealthy. The smaller walls around neighborhoods inside the thicker walls of the city served not only to protect the residents, but was the beginning of the idea of exclusion. When the smaller gated communities began to add some basic amenities such as markets and schools behind their guarded gates, it served more to isolate them from the “others’ outside more than any other reason.

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