Pruitt-Igoe, 1972 - Demolition of crime-ridden public housing triggered a rethink
CPTED is 40 this year.
Professor C. Ray Jeffery's book "CPTED" was published in 1971. Oscar Newman's "Defensible Space" in 1972. That's four decades of preventing crime. In an age before prevention was situational, crime was designed out, policing was intelligent or activities routine, CPTED led the way.
Of course Newman and Jeffery stood on the shoulders of giants. A decade earlier there was Jane Jacobs, Elizabeth Wood and Schlomo Angel. By 1971 Jacobs had already invented territoriality and eyes on the street. Wood had already written on the merits of lively diverse neighborhoods (and flower-growing contests to brighten them up).
All this...decades before the broken windows theory reinvented that wheel.
CPTED wasn't the first kid on the prevention block. Police have always done prevention (still do), most of it unevaluated, superficial and generic. None of it place-based or specific.
Scholars made contributions to prevention, especially 1930s sociologists like Robert Shaw at the University of Chicago who created the Chicago Area Project. (Still running, still successful.)
Giants also came from geography. From 1968 geographers began writing books on place-based crime. Led by Harries in the US, Scott in Australia, and Herbert in the UK, the geography of crime later became environmental criminology.
It probably didn't prevent much crime. But it added to our understanding and moved the place-is-important debate squarely into CPTED turf. Which brings us back to CPTED and its birthday. It's worth learning what the pioneers actually said.
Then I came across this rare, and oddly haunting, film of Oscar Newman speaking to the inaugural session of the United Nations Habitat conference in 1976 Vancouver.
Click here to view it.
A ghost from our past talking about our world today.