What is a First Rung Neighborhood?

Occasionally, I use terms on this blog some of my readers may not understand. I recently mentioned “first-rung” neighborhoods in a post and got some comments about what on earth they were. So, for everyone else who didn’t know but didn’t ask, here is your answer.

How Cities Grow

When areas are first settled there’s no rhyme or reason as to where houses are placed. The city grows organically, and back in the day zoning was virtually non-existent. But as the small town begins to grow a bit, eventually the scattered farms and houses begin to focus on a central point. The downtown or city center becomes the center of commerce and soon the folks who conduct business in that area begin to build homes nearby.

When residential homes near the city center are in demand enough the city or town will usually organize a section of land and platt it for residential construction only. Platting breaks the land into similar sized lots and these first neighborhoods organized right by the city center are called “first rung” neighborhoods.

First rung neighborhoods in any city are usually the oldest in town and closest to the center. As you drive out from the downtown you can literally see how the city grew over decades of time in just a few miles. Beyond these first rung neighborhoods are second rung neighborhoods and then usually the suburbs.

Second rung neighborhoods are much the same layout and feel of the first rung though they are from newer housing stock. But once you reach the suburbs the layout usually changes from a local and very walkable neighborhood to one that is built for the automobile.

In Orlando, the historic downtown leads out to the first rung historic neighborhoods of Lake Eola Heights, Thornton Park/Lake Lawsona, Colonialtown South & North, Lake Cherokee/Delaney Park, and Lake Copeland.

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by Scott Sidler

I'm a historic preservationist and author. I help old house lovers understand & restore their homes so they can enjoy the history and character that surrounds them more everyday! When not working, writing or teaching about old houses I spend most of my time fixing up my own 1929 bungalow with my wife Delores and son Charley.

http://www.austinhomerestorations.com

7 comments

  1. matthew on said:

    Hey Scott! Great website for restorationists and preservationists, etc! I just wanted to let you know my parents are restoring a historic 1779 house in southside Va so I will send them your website for consultation. Just an fyi, some early cities were planned such as Annapolis and Savannah. It seems like more northern cities were planned than southern cities because of the organic culture of outlying plantations and a lack of cohesive population centers. Williamsburg, Va was also “planned” after it had been settled for some years although this molded the original settlement into the new street patterns, etc. Thanks for all that you do. My dad who was a carpenter for 40 years would be impressed with your work!

    • Thanks for your comments! How awesome to be working on a 1770’s house. I love the old colonials! Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help.

  2. Karri on said:

    I hadn’t ever heard that term (new to your blog) – thanks for the education.

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