James Rouse

Real Estate Developer

Born: 26 April 1914
Died: 9 April 1996
Birthplace: Easton, Maryland
Best known as: Urban planner who developed Boston's Fanueil Hall
James W. Rouse was an urban planner and real estate developer who pioneered indoor malls and is often credited with rejuvenating downtown areas in the United States during the 1970s. Rouse co-founded a mortgage banking firm in 1939, but left in 1954 to form James Rouse and Company (it became The Rouse Company in 1966). He focused on developing indoor shopping centers during the '50s, but in 1963 embarked on building a planned city, Columbia, on 14,100 acres in Howard County, Maryland. Between 1973 and 1983 The Rouse Company created successful "festival marketplaces" in Boston (Fanueil Hall), Baltimore (Harbor Place) and Manhattan (South Street Seaport). Rouse himself retired in 1981, and he and his wife then formed the Enterprise Foundation, with the goal of creating affordable housing for low-income families. In 1995 President Bill Clinton presented Rouse with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work revitalizing urban areas and his commitment to livability and diversity.
Extra credit: Rouse was actor Edward Norton's grandfather.

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