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Real estate, History

Real estate, The History of Gated Communities: From Security to Exclusivity

Real estate, Gated communities are residential neighborhoods that use walls, fences, gates, and other physical barriers to restrict access to non-residents. They are often seen as symbols of privilege, status, and exclusivity. Still, they also have a long and complex history that reflects urban development’s changing social, economic, and political contexts. This article will explore the origins and evolution of gated communities from ancient times to the present day.

Real estate, History

Ancient and Medieval Fortifications

The earliest forms of gated communities can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and Greece, where walls and gates often surrounded cities for protection from external threats, such as wars, raids, and invasions. These walls also served to demarcate the boundaries and identities of the towns and regulate the movement and activities of the inhabitants and visitors.

Within the walled cities, there were also smaller gated communities, such as palaces, temples, and elite neighborhoods, reserved for rulers, priests, and nobles, who enjoyed more privileges and amenities than ordinary people. These gated communities were also designed to display the wealth, power, and prestige of their residents and isolate them from the rest of society.

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In the Middle Ages, gated communities continued in Europe, Asia, and Africa as feudal lords, kings, and emperors built castles, forts, and citadels to defend their territories and assert their authority. These fortified structures also housed the aristocracy, the clergy, and the military, who formed a distinct social class from the peasants and merchants outside the walls. Some of these gated communities also developed into independent city-states, such as Venice and Florence, that had their governments, laws, and cultures.

Modern and Contemporary Enclaves

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In the modern era, gated communities emerged as a response to the social and economic changes brought by the Industrial Revolution, urbanization, and globalization. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some wealthy and influential people in Europe and North America moved to the suburbs, where they built private and exclusive communities, such as Montretout in Paris, Llewellyn Park in New Jersey, and Bel Air in Los Angeles. These gated communities offered a retreat from the noise, pollution, and congestion of the cities and a sense of security, privacy, and community.

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In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, gated communities became more widespread and diverse as they catered to different population segments, such as retirees, golfers, celebrities, and ethnic minorities, in various regions worldwide, such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa. These gated communities also reflected the growing social and economic inequalities, as well as the increasing fear and distrust, in the urban society, as they provided a way for the residents to escape from the crime, violence, and disorder of the cities, as well as to assert their identity, status, and lifestyle.


Gated communities are not a new phenomenon but a historical and global one that has evolved and adapted to urban development’s different contexts and needs. Gated communities have positive and negative impacts, as they can offer security, privacy, and community benefits. Still, they can also create problems such as segregation, exclusion, and isolation. Gated communities are also a controversial and contested form of urban planning, as they challenge the public realm and the city’s common good.

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