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Bassett was a United States congressman, 1902-1905, and served on the Public Service Commission of New York, during which time he aided in the development of the dual subway plan in New York City. He was vice-chairman of the Brooklyn Committee on City Plan, whose report was published in 1914; chairman of the Heights of Buildings Commission in New York City, whose final report, 1916, presented the first Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, also the first comprehensive zoning ordinance in the United States. Most of his work, both private and on committees, concerns city planning, zoning and the legal issues surrounding these fields.