The Berlin city planner James Hobrecht, who played the role of Pierre L'Enfant, Andrew Haswell Green and Frederick Law Olmsted all rolled into one, had already distinguished himself from his counterparts in Washington and New York by incorporating existing roads into his plan, rather than blotting them out under an orthogonal grid. His approach toward residential development, also, represented a quite different approach from the consensus emerging in mid-19th century London and New York, as this study describes:
The study criticizes this arrangement for potentially exploiting the poor for rent, in substandard accommodations, and under the watchful eyes of the agents of the building owners and the wealthy residents on the étage noble, yet it's not clear, based on the facts given, whether the fourth floor or basement apartments actually paid for themselves (although it's said that the poorest residents often failed to pay their rent altogether). Were the wealthier residents effectively subsidizing those in the basement and fourth floor? Hobrecht's discussion of how he envisioned the residents living together, moreover, sounds like it was excerpted directly from The Death and Life of Great American Cities."In a 1868 publication Hobrecht reveals his position on housing. He describes a situation in English cities where wealthy inhabitants would live in their villas in West-end districts. They would be completely separated - spatially and socially - from workers. Hobrecht rejects the English model with its strict spatial separation of classes on the scale of districts. Instead he illustrates the Berlin model, in which Mietskasernen play a crucial role. He describes the Mietskaserne as a multi-storey building with the following structureof dwelling units and respective rent prices:
- Floor IV: 3 units à 100 Taler
- Floor III: 2 units à 150 Taler
- Floor II: 3 units à 200 Taler
- Floor I: 1 unit à 500 Taler
- Ground floor: 2 units à 200 Taler
- Basement or rear building: units à 50 Taler"
The study contrasts the positive and negative views of these apartments as being simultaneously "palaces" and "prisons", but even this dualistic interpretation contrasts with the almost uniformly negative appraisal of the tenements of Manhattan (although the tenants' own views probably differed from those of the most vocal critics). Marc, in his comment, speculates that the design and quality of these dwellings may have played a role in the divergent attitudes of 19th century continental Europeans and Americans toward high-density living. At the very least, this shows one alternative approach to planning, and to an integration of uses and incomes, that still has relevance for today's planners.