Richard Melancthon Hurd was a pioneer real estate economist and political activist.
Hurd was born in New York City and attended St. Paul's School. He graduated from Yale University in 1888, where he was a member of Skull and Bones and editor of the Yale record. He headed the mortgage department of the U.S. Mortgage & Trust Company in 1895. He married in 1898 and had five children. He was president of the Lawyers' Mortgage Insurance Company in 1903 when he published Principles of City Land Values.
During the First World War he was active as an officer of the American Defense Society, an organization that promoted America's entry into World War I and civilian initiatives to suppress dissent during the conflict. He was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. In 1917, when he was vice=president and director of the Mortgage Bond Company of New York, he was appointed a New York State Prison Commissioner. He was later President of Lawyers Mortgage Trust, a securitizer of urban commercial property mortgages. The company suffered financial losses and closed during the depression.
He died at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He had been ill for more than a month.