The near-complete destruction of Greensburg, Kansas brings to mind the September 1936 fire that burned my hometown of Bandon, Oregon. As shown below, all but about 16 of the town’s 500 buildings burned to the ground.
This was in the middle of the New Deal and planning was all the rage. Oregon even had a State Planning Board, which viewed this disaster as a great opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of sound land-use planning. To give planners maximum flexibility, the board convinced 80 percent of the property owners in the city to put their land in a property pool. Landowners were given temporary building permits to replace homes and businesses during the emergency, with the understanding that they would have to be rebuilt when the plan was completed.