via Random History
In 1908, the nascent National Association of Real Estate Exchanges met in Chicago for their first annual meeting. Members of the association were seeking to organize themselves around principles with designs as lofty as saving America from the perceived ill effects of wholly unregulated development. In one major sense, such “unfettered” development would later be termed “sprawl,” and despite early efforts to help prevent it, it is the defining characteristic of urban and suburban development for the better part of the twentieth century in America—but it is not unique to the last century. At the time, however, optimism reined supreme, particularly in Chicago, which had the advantage of designing a major metropolitan center onto a relatively clean slate, following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. One of the oldest organized boards of real estate brokers, the Chicago Real Estate Board, addressed overarching questions pertaining to the common civic good and the future of their city. For this reason, the Chicago board became the model upon which similar boards in major cities around the nation were based. These local boards were the fraternities of real estate men (though woman successfully entered the field and gained membership in boards in increasing numbers, particularly at the onset of World War II, and would later hold the majority among residential realtors) that began to think in “high-class” professional terms and organized in Chicago for the first of many meetings designed to elevate their status as hard-working middle-class Americans with a truly legitimate profession with a truly ethical mission (Hornstein 2005).
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