A culdesac or cul-de-sac is a dead end street. It is a street that is not connected to other roads, and it provides both a way in and out of an area. In America or Australia, it is sometimes called a court, which is a cul-de-sac with only one way in and out on the same road. These dead end streets exist around the world, and they have existed for thousands of years. They were first seen in Egypt in an area that was found in the El-Lahun village that was estimated to be built in 1885 BCE. A law in the UK in 1875 banned the use of these streets in new developments, which implies that they must have existed there in earlier times as well.
A text written by a German architect that refers to medieval towns also points towards the existence of the cul-de-sac in this country. The text refers to streets that kept traffic away from residential streets “for the sake of the children” who were playing near their homes so they wouldn’t be run over. Before that time, residential areas sometimes had gates to keep traffic away.
In the early 1900s, the cul-de-sac was again used in the U.K. and in the U.S. as garden suburbs were planned and built. Sidewalks were also built as people took short trips by foot. The Radburn, NJ subdivision was used as a model for later developments. Culs-de-sac were recommended by the U.S. Federal Housing Authority in their 1936 guidelines. These dead end streets were also used in Canada, but crescents or loops were often used. Today, they are sometimes formed as unplanned streets to reduce the flow of traffic through an area and to protect children who play there. A variation of the cul-de-sac is to have pathways that bicycles or pedestrians can take to get to another street, but they do not allow cars to pass through.
A cul-de-sac is different from a normal street that usually runs north and south, east and west in a grid plan. Normal streets are formed into blocks that may have stop lights at each corner to allow those travelling from the opposite direction to have a turn to go through the intersection. Businesses are usually located on normal streets, although a large company or a factory may have their company built in an open area that is accessible only by their cul-de-sac. The benefit of this type of street for a business is that they eliminate most of the traffic from coming near their business. Only those visiting the business will drive down the street.
Real estate values of houses built in culs-de-sac are generally higher than those built on regular streets. It is difficult to find any available land to build a new house on a city street because most areas are already developed, and little available land exists. Cities in the U.S. and around the world in many countries must follow building codes that prohibit residential homes from being constructed in business districts. Private homeowners with houses on main streets are typically offered large amounts of money from the city to buy their property. Once the real estate lawyers have intervened and the city owns it, the house is usually demolished and the area is rezoned as a business district.
Culs-de-sac have many advantages over normal streets, such as the fact that they reduce noise and pollution since there is much less traffic traveling on them. Crime is also reduced because there is only one way out of the street, and this makes it easier for the criminal to be caught by neighbors or police who have been called to the scene. Additionally, very few traffic accidents occur on these streets. A cul-de-sac is much safer for children who are able to play in the street, especially if there are only four or five houses in the dead end.