Chicken keeping in urban areas was not only allowed, it was encouraged during WW2. It helped with the war effort - the more resources that could be diverted to those in the trenches the better. Food rationing coupons were the norm, and raising chickens in the backyard took the pressure off that program as well.
I really like this question. I served on our town's planning and zoning commission as well as on the town council, and I can tell you first hand that our responsibility was to take complaints seriously. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, and it was you complaining to your city officials. Do you want them to listen to your concerns and take action if appropriate, or ignore you? In a town of 600 people, there's no place to hide. Once you've had a discussion, decided on a remedy if it's needed, and acted upon it, you then have to face the people you've affected every day at the post office, the only convenience store in town, or taking your grandkids to the park. It's not an easy job, it's often a thankless job, and no matter what you do, someone is mad.
I know my grandmother had chickens in her backyard in the '50s in a little town called Luverne, Minnesota. I don't recall how many she had, but she happily provided eggs to her neighbors at no charge. My mother worked in the hatchery near that little town, Blue Ribbon Hatchery, for many years.
I'm following this thread with great interest. The history of keeping backyard chickens could be a fascinating topic! Thanks for starting this thread.
Edited by Blooie - 1/2/16 at 11:16am