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Thread: Best City/Urban Planning Books

  1. #1

    Default Best City/Urban Planning Books

    Thought I would open a conversation on some of the great literature out there to criticize and provide insight into cities. What is your recommended book, or, perhaps, which has offered you some of the best insight?
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    Hodge & Gordon - Planning Canadian Communities is essentially the "planning bible" in Canada if you want to learn about the profession.

    For recent books I would recommend Montgomery's Happy City, Speck's Walkable City, Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking . For recent trends a good backdrop is to read the source on the big two: Charter of the New Urbanism and Smart Growth Manual.

    Of course you can't leave out Jane Jacobs (death and life of great american cities and others), Lynch's The image of a city, Gehl's Cities for People. I would also say that for a theoretical backdrop Silent Spring is a necessity to read.

    For sheer interests sake I would also recommend "The Power Broker" by Caro for insight into the colourful Robert Moses saga.

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    Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time-Jeff Speck

    The High Cost of Free Parking - Donald Shoup
    This book is a good book on how free parking actually hurts cities, and how charging for parking can actually be beneficial to not only the businesses around them, but the city itself. Also talks a lot about how to fix what has already been done (turning malls into mixed use facilities, concentrating all the parking into one spot, etc.). A big book, but worth the read.

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    A couple I've enjoyed recently:
    - The City in History (Lewis Mumford)
    - The Plan of Chicago - Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City (Carl Smith)

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    Jane Jacobs (death and life of great american cities and others
    Highly recommend...

    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajs View Post
    A couple I've enjoyed recently:
    - The City in History (Lewis Mumford)
    - The Plan of Chicago - Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City (Carl Smith)
    If you find the Burnham story interesting there is a great historical fiction by Erik Larson set in the same period called "Devil in the White City" you might enjoy.

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    Can I post a not-book resource on the subject? As a layman on this subject, I enjoyed Geoffrey West's work (and TED talk):

    http://www.santafe.edu/research/citi...ustainability/

  9. #9

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    A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander



    Originally published: 1977
    https://www.patternlanguage.com/

    "Back in 1977, the book first introduced the concept of people designing buildings for themselves, and guaranteeing the comfort and functionality of the buildings they designed, because the elements of the language are "patterns", elements which are a collective memory of things which work in our surroundings."
    Last edited by GreenSPACE; 13-04-2016 at 03:45 PM.
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    I just finished reading Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan.

    Sadik-Khan was the former commissioner of New York City's Department of Transportation and implemented several projects that made streets safer and more enjoyable for people in several areas of the city.

    It's an excellent book! I highly recommend it.

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    ^ Post a review on Goodreads pleas.
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    Sex And The City

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    Thanks for the discussion, folks. I'm not much on the "casual reads", for I am more into journal and peer-reviewed articles, but I can suggest:
    Tactical Urbanism - Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia (if you like "Make it Happen" projects)
    Straphanger - Taras Grescoe (for the nerdy transit traveler)
    Born to Walk - Dan Rubinstein (slow yet informative from a different view, if you like stories)
    Street Smart - Samuel I. Schwartz (casual read)

    Currently obsessing over balancing car culture and re-imagining suburbia, so this is always a good read: Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs
    by Ellen Dunham-Jones.
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  14. #14

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    Joel Kotkin, “The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us,”

    I haven't read the book yet, but the following review, by Sholomo Angel, professor of city planning at the Marron Institute and head of the NYU Urban Expansion program, intrigued me to order it. I am always interested in learning from different view points.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-prais...awl-1463777428

    The essence of Mr. Kotkin’s defense of suburban expansion in the United States—with which he is most familiar and where the opposition to his views is better organized and much more formidable than elsewhere—is that suburbs now contain the great majority of residences as well as jobs. Suburban neighborhoods, he suggests, are as conducive to community living and as “green” as central-city ones. But his critique of conventional urban-planning wisdom goes further. He argues that central-city living is largely unaffordable by the middle class, let alone the poor; that central cities are becoming the abodes of the global rich, encouraging glamorous consumption rather than providing middle-class jobs; and that dense urban living in small, expensive quarters discourages child rearing, a critical concern for policy makers in many industrialized countries today. (There are 80,000 more dogs than children in San Francisco.)

  15. #15

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    I find "urban planning" a bit too superficial and occasionally missing the big picture. Should be supplemented in every bookshelf with something like:
    Key Concepts in Economic Geography – Yuko Aoyama, James Murphy, Susan Hanson
    Organised into 20 essays this book offers an overview of the conceptual underpinnings of economic geography. It identifies and explains the key concepts in the discipline, demonstrating their historical roots and contemporary applications to fully understand the processes of economic change, regional growth and decline, globalization, and the changing locations of firms and industries.

    Aoyama, Y., Murphy, J., and Hanson, S. (2010) Key Concepts in Economic Geography, London: Sage
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    If we're exploring tangents then I remember this being good:
    - Arrival City, The final migration and our next world (Doug Saunders)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ajs View Post
    A couple I've enjoyed recently:
    - The City in History (Lewis Mumford)
    - The Plan of Chicago - Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City (Carl Smith)
    If you find the Burnham story interesting there is a great historical fiction by Erik Larson set in the same period called "Devil in the White City" you might enjoy.
    Thanks for the reco Jaredo. Devil in the White City was solid. The Chicago fair/Burnham stuff was excellent - the serial killer plot felt a bit tacked on in places but had enough juice to move a reader through.

  18. #18

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    Interesting... not a book, but an article...


    http://www.citylab.com/housing/2017/...elands/516378/

    The Wastelands of Urban Renewal
    Through large-scale demolition and clearance, American urban renewal waged a war on perceived waste—and created a new tide of it.


    ANDREW SMALL

    excerpts:

    "From 1950 to 1980, wrecking crews brought down roughly 7.5 million dwelling units across the United States, equivalent to one out of every 17 in the country. Leading the charge was...



    "Leading the charge was a social perspective, the “casualties” are largely African Americans and people of ethnic or racial minorities who get displaced. The cores of cities, which had been home to diverse communities, get remade for higher income people. That wasn’t necessarily going to be the case originally, as some cities promised people could move back to rebuilt neighborhoods.

    People who were displaced may have moved to physically better housing because there was a relocation dimension to displacement. They were given moving expenses and assistance in finding a new home. But a physical home wasn’t enough. They lost the social connections, the cultural connections, and the communities that were forever torn apart. They bore the consequences. That’s why “urban renewal” gets called “Negro removal”; about two-thirds of the people who were displaced were minorities.

    ...

    Nationally, on average, one out of every 17 dwelling units came down during the 1960s. Urban renewal and highway clearance were a big part of that. Today, cities like Detroit are doing it in a bigger way, but large-scale clearance is no longer the norm for the average American city.

    I looked at New Haven, where roughly 30,000 people were displaced. During the 1960s alone, redevelopment tore down one out of every six dwelling units there, displacing people and businesses as well.

    Businesses suffered because of their specific neighborhood ties. A grocery store, a tailor—these businesses couldn’t easily start anew somewhere else. All their customers were locals. So many businesses went out of business as a result.

    ...

    The specific place mattered.

    Exactly: it was the community impact. A lot of the policy addressed the physical aspects of cities. There were often physical problems—for example, of electricity, plumbing, and general dilapidation—but fixing those with clearance created a whole host of social problems.

    It created economic problems, too. People moved further away from where they worked. Even if housing was physically better for them, it didn’t mean it was a great fit for them in other realms. Sociologists have studied these communities and found long impacts from this displacement. Mindy Fullilove calls it “root shock.” That didn’t get factored into compensation of displaced communities.

    Stepping back to the actual process of demolition, how did that in its own way produce waste? ...

    Bolding above was mine
    Last edited by KC; 13-02-2017 at 01:32 PM.

  19. #19

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    I liked the Happy City by Charles Montgomery.

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    Just bumbling around the library today and picked up to good light reads: Yard, Street, Park by Girling and Helphand (Historical perspective on suburbia through the lens of landscape design), and Transit Villages in the 21st Century by Bernick and Cervero.
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