To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American planning movement, the American Planning Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries have created a list of the books essential to planning. These essential books come from every decade starting in 1909, the date of the first national planning conference.
Authors in red indicate affiliation with UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.
Town Planning in Practice: An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs. (Sir) Richard Unwin 1909. A masterful exposition on the fine points of site planning—such as the arrangement of buildings and streets, squares, and other public places—this book is one of the foundations of the field. Lushly illustrated with town plans and photos, Unwin’s book demonstrated how to plan cities at the human scale. This is an excellent book to share with local civil engineers.
An Introduction to City Planning: Democracy’s Challenge to the American City. Benjamin Marsh 1909. Marsh was one of the first and most vociferous leaders of the movement to use coordinated governmental action to address public health crises. “A city without a Plan,” he wrote, “is like a ship without a rudder.” Marsh became one of the major early advocates for zoning and planning in New York.
The Principles of Scientific Management. Frederick Winslow Taylor 1911. Taylor’s highly influential argument was that both business and government should “functionalize work.” It gave support to the idea of separating politics from the administration of work, giving credence to rise of a professional class of planners, city engineers, city finance officers, and the like.
Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago. Walter D. Moody 1912. The first publication geared to elementary-school children on the subject of planning, this manual taught children about Daniel Burnham’s The Plan of Chicago of 1909.
Carrying Out the City Plan. Flavel Shurtleff, Frederick L. Olmsted 1914. Instigated by Olmsted, this was the first study of state planning law. Undertaken by landscape architect Flavel Shurtleff, the work became an indispensable tool for planners, planning commissioners, and attorneys as they developed the legal foundations and the practice of planning.
Cities in Evolution: An Introduction to the Town Planning Movement and to the Study of Civics. Patrick Geddes 1915. Linking social reform and the urban environment, Geddes looked at cities comprehensively. All planning should preserve the unique historic character of the city and involve citizens in the planning of its development, he reasoned, sounding two themes that would reemerge in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Planning of the Modern City: A Review of the Principles Governing City Planning. Nelson P. Lewis 1916. Focused on the physical city, Lewis viewed the problems of city planning as engineering problems. From transportation systems to parks and recreation, this book took a systems approach and inspired engineers to consider planning their concern and planners to consider physical problems.
City Planning With Special Reference to the Planning of Streets and Lots. Charles Mulford Robinson 1916. Charles Mulford Robinson was among first writers to meld knowledge of 18th and 19th century design with the growing effects of motorized travel and “modern” American living. This book springs from a period of great creative ferment and experimentation in city planning, particularly in the areas of street design and platting. Many of his observations remain relevant today.
The City. Robert E. Park, Ernest W. Burgess, Roderick D. McKenzie, Louis Wirth 1925. Burgess introduced the concept of human ecology by investigating the spatial patterns of urban development. His concentric zone theory connected the distance one commutes from the central business district to a socioeconomic zone of the city; hence residents are sorted by economic and social class into zones.
The Suburban Trend. Harlan Paul Douglass 1925. Douglas’s survey of suburban communities was written just as suburbs were first developing in large numbers—and at a time when many believed that the suburbs would somehow fuse the best of the city and the countryside in harmony. His work exemplifies the ongoing tug between urban and suburban in planning.
New Towns for Old: Achievements in Civic Improvement in Some American Small Towns and Neighborhoods. John Nolen 1927. A pioneer in the profession of city and regional planning, Nolen was a landscape architect responsible for the design of many innovative town plans, such as Venice, California. His book comprehensively examined the economic, social, and physical aspects of planning and argued for the place of natural beauty in urban design. Like his contemporaries, he was a city reformer. The book highlights several of his planned communities, including Mariemont, Ohio.
Major Economic Factors in Metropolitan Growth and Arrangement: A Study of Trends and Tendencies in the Economic Activities within the Region of New York and its Environs. Robert Murray Haig, Roswell C. McCrea 1927. An economic view of cities, Haig’s book introduced the concept of economic base analysis. He viewed land use as a function of accessibility and wrote extensively on the taxation and the urban economics.
Toward a New Architecture. Le Corbusier French 1923; English 1927. Le Corbusier’s books offered a vision of a rational, man-made city in which large housing blocks of high rise dwellings faced or were set in parks. Residential areas were separated from other activities and organized in rigorous grids of new development. His work and belief in the functional city is often invoked as the source idea for multi-story housing blocks in America.
The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning. Benton MacKaye 1928. Co-founder of The Wilderness Society, Benton MacKaye advocated in this work for land preservation for recreation and conservation. MacKaye linked planning to conservation.
Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture. Robert Staughton Lynd, Helen Merrell Lynd 1929. A monumental and very popular anthropological study of Muncie, Indiana, the book helped define the character of the American community. The authors examined work, class divisions, nuclear family, and play among other key organizing principles of American life.
Neighborhood Unit A Scheme of Arrangement for the Family-Life Community. Clarence Perry 1929. Perry developed the concept of the neighborhood unit and believed cities should be aggregates of smaller units that serve as a focus of community. He promoted public neighborhood space and pedestrian scale.
The Disappearing City. Frank Lloyd Wright 1932. In this publication Wright introduced Broadacre City, his visionary community form divorced from the city and suburban in concept. His was one of many conceptual new towns that were primarily architectural in character.
CIAM Manifesto (The Athens Charter). Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne 1933, written up by Le Corbusier in 1943. Members of the congress presented their analysis of comparative town planning at the famous 1933 congress. They were committed to a belief in collective action to create a thoroughly new and modern city that would replace the old and outdated.
Final Report Status of City and Regional Planning in the United States. National Planning Board 1934. The National Planning Board was a short-lived attempt at a national planning program with a focus on buttressing infrastructure, the economy, and creating jobs. This report was a based on a study “to determine what the role of the urban community is in national life.”
Modern Housing. Catherine Bauer 1934. Both an assessment and a political demand for a housing movement to support low rent housing, this book helped rally interest and concern in housing needs in America . It advocated for the role of government in assuring housing for all.
Regional Factors in National Planning and Development. National Resources Committee 1935. A major study of regions in America , this work detailed how federal, state, and local government could undertake coordinated planning. The report addressed political frameworks, interstate cooperation, economic issues, regulations, waters rights, and examined the Tennessee Valley Authority as a model for regional planning.
Outline of Town and City Planning. Thomas D. Adams 1935. Did the profession of planning arise in response to traffic congestion? Certainly, the automobile put tremendous pressure on the existing form of cities. This core idea and many more were consolidated into this book which served as one of the first textbooks on planning in America . The books was based on 11 years of lectures Adams gave at MIT.
Our Cities Their Role in the National Economy. National Resources Committee, Urbanism Committee 1937. This was in the words of the committee the “first major national study of cities in the United States … where a large portion of the Nation’s wealth ... and problems are concentrated.” The work links urban planning to the economy.
The Structure and Growth of Residential Neighborhoods in American Cities. Homer Hoyt, U.S. Federal Housing Administration 1939. From his experience in real estate, Hoyt examined how the structure of residential neighborhoods developed. He also explored how the real estate market worked to shape neighborhoods. His is known for the sector theory in urban development.
Local Planning Administration. Ladislas Segoe, Walter H. Blucher, Institute for Training in Municipal Administration 1941. Planning pioneer Ladislas Segoe advocated for planning’s integration into government in order to gain respect in administrative and legislative circles. This was a manual for administrative practice and came out within months of Walker’s book.
The Planning Function in Urban Government. Robert Walker 1941. A controversial but influential book which argued that planning needed to move away from association with independent commissions and gain a place closer to the local legislative body, the chief executive, and administrative agencies. In short, Walker argued for fully integrated planning agencies within local government.
American Housing Problems and Prospects: The Factual Findings. Miles Colean, Twentieth Century Fund, Housing Committee 1944. Colean had worked for the Federal Housing Authority and advocated for housing finance reform and public housing. His analysis of American housing concluded that there were not enough innovative housing products on the market to address need. He also advocated for strong coordination between war production and housing—an opportunity missed during World War I.
The Road to Serfdom. Frederick A. von Hayek 1944. Nobel Prize winner Hayek argued that central economic planning led to serfdom. His influential theories reinforced libertarian views that hands-off approaches by government were needed to avoid tyranny. His work re-emerged as an influence on governmental policy makers in the 1980s.
Communitas Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life. Paul Goodman, Percival Goodman 1947. This book jump started the post-war rebellion that reached its pinnacle in the 1960s. The Goodmans posed three models of community based on consumption, art, or liberty. They spoke out against religious and government coercion. Paul Goodman’s later works encouraged a radical rethinking of major social institutions and their roles in individual lives.
A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. Aldo Leopold 1949. Aldo Leopold was a co-founder of The Wilderness Society and the originator of the concept of wildlife management. In this popular book he put forward the ethical premise that views land not as a commodity to be possessed but an obligation to be preserved. He helped develop the scientific concept of ecology.
Toward New Towns for America. Clarence S. Stein 1951. Stein was a co-founder of the Regional Planning Association of America, a co-designer of the iconic planned town of Radburn, and an advocate for the federal new town planning program. His book highlights his pedestrainfriendly, greenbelt-influenced designs for neighborhoods and towns.
Urban Traffic A Function of Land Use. Robert B. Mitchell, Chester Rapkin 1954. This book pioneered the concept that urban traffic patterns resulted from land uses and their resulting activities. Although the link had been made between traffic and planning quite early, Mitchell and Rapkin showed how it could be measured and studied. Their concept became accepted thinking throughout the profession.
Politics, Planning, and the Public Interest: The Case of Public Housing in Chicago. Martin Meyerson, Edward C. Banfield 1955. Meyerson and Banfield saw planning as firmly enmeshed within politics and urban management. Gary Hack explains that Meyerson believed “making the plan has to be inherently a process that organizes public and political support.”
The Heart of Our Cities: The Urban Crisis, Diagnosis and Cure. Victor Gruen 1955. The father of the mid-20th century shopping mall, architect and planner Gruen wrote this treatise on how to approach the redevelopment of cities. He viewed malls as the center pieces of new urban towns.
The Organization Man. William H. Whyte 1956. “Recognized as a benchmark, Whyte’s book reveals the dilemmas at the heart of the group ethos that emerged in the corporate and social world of the postwar era.” This is Nathan Glazer’s assessment. The book examines the impact of large scale organization on society, including planned suburban communities and the belief in the endless perfection of life and society. Whyte revealed the cost to the individual in terms of initiative and creativity.
Education for Planning: City, State, and Regional. Harvey S. Perloff 1957. This book became the foundation for planning education as Perloff gave intellectual coherence to the field. He outlined what he called “the integrated set of learning experiences which would permit the student … to rediscover … principles … and learn to apply them in a problem-solving setting.”
Standard Industrial Classification. Bureau of the Budget 1957. The standard classification project began in 1937 and in the 1950s a broader project was undertaken to classify both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing in the United States. This massive effort integrated diverse statistical data that allowed planners, researchers, and communities to access wide ranging data in standardized classifications such as types of employment.
Urban Land Use Planning. F. Stuart Chapin 1957. Accepted as one of the standard texts on planning practice, the book describes planning as a “big stakes game in a multi-party competition.” Therefore, the book continues the tradition of looking at planning within a political and local governmental context, but also as a competition among interests.
The Image of the City. Kevin Lynch 1960. A book that appears on almost every planner’s list of essential books, this work is still in use almost 50 years later. Lynch argued that people create mental maps of their surroundings with five key features: paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks. He also introduced the terms wayfinding and imageability into the discourse, influencing the way people think and talk about urban space.
The Citizen’s Guide to Planning. Herbert H. Smith 1961. One of the first books addressed to planning commissioners and their role. Smith helped both citizens and appointed officials understand the basics of planning. He untangled the different roles of planning commissioners and professionals and examined topics such as the master plan, capital improvement programs, zoning, and the regulation of land subdivision. In this classic, he offers a highly personal insider’s account of the real world of the planning process.
The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects. Lewis Mumford 1961. Winner of the 1961 National Book Award, Mumford’s book traces the development of cities from ancient Greece and Rome to the modern forms of suburb and megalopolis. Mumford describes the genesis of cities and analyzes their purpose in a sweeping narrative that proposes a more “organic” and humane relationship between people and their environment. Mumford helped popularize planning for the general public through his Skyline feature in The New Yorker.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jane Jacobs 1961. A writer with no formal training in architecture or planning, Jacobs dared to write what she called “an attack on current city planning and rebuilding” that set out new, more human, principles for city planning. The result has become one of the must-read books of the planning profession. Empirical and highly readable, this book is based on Jacobs’s observations about city life. She observed what made streets safe or unsafe, what constituted a neighborhood, and what function a neighborhood served within the larger organism of a city. She analyzed why some neighborhoods remained impoverished while others regenerated.
Silent Spring. Rachel Carson 1962. Carson brought environmental concerns into the mainstream with this book on the harmful effects of pesticides on mosquitoes and birds. Widely credited for spurring the environmental movement, Carson’s work inspired planners to consider the importance of environmental protection in their daily lives and in urban development projects.
The Urban Villagers: Group and Class in the Life of Italian-Americans. Herbert Gans 1962. Gans, a sociologist and city planner, told the story of Boston’s West End working-class Italian- American community. He illustrated the importance of family and neighborhood, taking a captivating anthropological view of a distinctly urban environment. The sociology of how people live in cities and interact with their environment was an influential thread in planning literature.
The Federal Bulldozer: A Critical Analysis of Urban Renewal, 1949-1962. Martin Anderson 1964. This book signaled a turn away from the idealistic “tear down and build new and better” approach to city planning. Anderson’s early history of urban renewal detailed the mechanisms and legislation used to push the program forward, showing how its idealistic goals quickly gave way to destruction for its own sake. Anderson became a domestic policy adviser to Presidents Nixon and Reagan.
The Urban General Plan. T. J. Kent, Jr. 1964. In a contemporary review of the book, Kenneth L. Kraemer noted that the philosophy of planning had evolved. Planning was now more comprehensive and seen as “multilayered matrixes.” The goal of planning was no longer an ideal state, but “an activity stream relating to problems and goal definition, program design … and evaluation.” Kent exemplified the change and provided a history of the use, characteristics, and purpose of the urban comprehensive plan, and how it was currently being applied.
The Making of Urban America: A History of Planning in the United States. John Reps 1965. Over the years, Reps’s expansive studies have looked at the original plans of all types of communities in the United States. In addition, he examined how key cities and towns developed in their first decades and followed up with more intensive regional studies. This comprehensive history of early American town and city development is filled with detailed drawings and maps outlining how America urbanized.
The Zoning Game: Municipal Practices and Policies. Richard Babcock 1966. A. Dan Tarlock writes: “The Zoning Game caught the crest of the emergence of local land-use controls from a marginal subject of interest ... to a major national issue in the 1970s.” It was twice cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. The book proposes sensible reforms to one of the earliest tools of planning and also provides a critique, asking whether zoning as it is practiced really promotes its stated goals. Babcock believed that zoning, when done correctly, was a critical means of implementing land use decisions that benefited the community as a whole.
Design of Cities. Edmund Bacon 1967. Bacon’s powerful urban design concepts shaped Philadelphia, where he had as much influence as Daniel Burnham in Chicago and Robert Moses in New York. A planner, architect, architectural historian, and theorist, Bacon relates the international work of great city designers through the ages to the contemporary city, with illustrative examples.
Design with Nature. Ian McHarg 1969. This pioneering, inspirational work on environmental planning was notable for its use of map overlays to identify land development constraints. An influential landscape architect who spoke to planners, McHarg showed how to achieve the ideal fit between built environments and natural surroundings.
American City Planning Since 1890: A History Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the American Institute of Planners. Mel Scott 1969. Not only was this book invaluable in developing this essential books list, it is the standard text on American city planning history up to 1969. Scott helped illuminate the intellectual as well as the practical develops in the field drawing clear paths from the Progressive and sanitary movements to the planning in the postwar eras.
The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity and City Life. Richard Sennett 1970. Influential urban sociologist Sennett examines how excessive order produced dull urban life, but was socially destructive and led to the cultivation of violent, narrow, repressed societies. His appreciation of the complexity and essential unregulated nature of good urban life challenged planners to do more than impose solutions.
Learning from Las Vegas. Robert Venturi, Denise Scott-Brown, Steven Izenour 1971. A landmark work filled with wit and insight into how people actually use and enjoy landscapes of pleasure. The book challenged architects and planners to consider the overlooked vernacular and understand how it created an order and form of its own, and responded creatively to the people who inhabited commercial landscape. It was the first book to examine the phenomenon of the strip in the American city.
Site Planning. Kevin Lynch, Gary Hack 1971. This thorough work on all the technical aspects of site planning is infused with a deep understanding on how humans inhabit their environment, the need to avoid ugliness, and the importance of understanding the consequences of design. The book remains a standard in the field of planning.
A Reader in Planning Theory. Andreas Faludi 1973. These essays covered the full complement of 20th century planning theory, including rational planning, advocacy planning, and incrementalism. Each one challenged the utility and methods of planning in determining the public interests and the role of the planner. Of particular note are Paul Davidoff’s “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning” and Martin Meyerson’s “Building the Middle-Range: Bridge for Comprehensive Planning.”
Urban Design as Public Policy: Practical Methods for Improving Cities. Jonathan Barnett 1973. Barnett discussed how to bridge the gap between the design and planning professions. An architect, planner, and teacher, Barnett focused on how to actually bring about the qualities of urban life that Jane Jacobs and others espoused.
Close Up How to Read the American City. Grady Clay 1973. Clay is one of the great proponents of close observation of landscapes and built environments, and in his first book he introduced a new taxonomy and vocabulary for describing where we live, what we see, and how we feel about places. Importantly for planners, he stressed the subjective and perceptual nature of places rather than grand, abstract plans for them.
Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. E.F. Schumacher 1973. Schumacher was an early proponent for the concept of sustainability. He examined how it applied to economics and planning for human organizations and communities. His essays on “Buddhist Economics,” the limits of natural resources, and scale are essential to modern planning thought. The book had a large popular audience.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Robert Caro 1974. Journalist Caro grapples with the motivation, methods, and impacts of Moses, a builder of New York public works who abjured planning as a discipline but understood how to “get things done.” This book was especially influential in how it crystallized the change in values that had taken place over the 20th century, with large-scale patriarchal Modernist planning falling out of favor.
Urban Planning Analysis: Methods and Models. Donald A. Kruekeberg, Arthur A. Silvers 1974. This clearly written introduction to basic quantitative techniques of urban planning and policy analysis includes solid chapters on survey research and analysis, population forecasting, transportation modeling, and program analysis and management, including time-sequence scheduling.
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein 1977. This timeless and detailed accounting of the patterns of urban architecture illuminates the populist turn in urban design in the wake of Jane Jacobs’s work. These patterns are the composition of a distinct language invented and used by everyday people. Planners can learn about place and its people by interpreting the details of its form.
The Fiscal Impact Handbook. Robert Burchell, David Listokin, et al. 1978. A planning classic on the important topic of assessing development impact on the fiscal condition of the local government. This is a comprehensive treatment of cost-revenue analysis and the limitations of different approaches.
Making City Planning Work. Allan Jacobs 1978. As San Francisco’s planning director, Allan Jacobs faced a memorable fight with developers and commissioners who proposed to build three high rise towers on the waterfront Embarcadero Center property. One of the first planning books of its kind, Jacobs’s memoir is both practical and political; he offers case studies illustrative of typical planning issues and intersperses these with more personal “behind the scenes” stories of what city planning was really like in San Francisco.
The Practice of Local Government Planning. Frank So, et al. 1979. The “green book” has served as core text of planning since its inception. Produced in partnership with ICMA the book comprehensively covers American city planning history, planning functions, and, most important, the public administrative aspects of planning, including agency management and budgeting. The book has been updated in several new editions and is still in use.
The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. William H. Whyte 1980. Whyte’s careful examination of small spaces and how people behave in them revealed the moral dimension of planning––the responsibility to create healthy public spaces. Whyte’s observations were fascinating enough to draw a public readership for his studies.
A Theory of Good City Form. Kevin Lynch 1981. A philosophical classic, the book calls attention to all that we take for granted as normative urban life. In this third of Lynch’s influential books, he relates humanist priorities to the actual form of cities, while trying to illuminate what our best and worst physical environments say about us as well as what we can learn from them.
Livable Streets. Donald Appleyard 1981. Appleyard was a precise observer of street conditions and traffic qualities. His analysis of streets and their traffic patterns demonstrated the link between urban design and social relationships. The book provided quantitative data to support traffic calming policies and established taxonomies of street use, now employed in traffic calming programs.
The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design. Anne Whiston Spirn 1984. Spirn applied design with nature techniques to an urban setting. Her analysis touched off ecological urbanism movement. Scientific research and urban case studies reveal how familiar natural processes (such as water cycles and photosynthesis) occur in cities and how this should inform planning.
Land, Growth, & Politics. John M. DeGrove 1984. As states began to assert their right to control and direct growth, John DeGrove played an active role in creating the Florida growth management act as well as assessing the ongoing evolution of growth management throughout the country. This early analysis set the stage for ongoing efforts and appraisals of this important movement.
Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. John Brinckerhoff Jackson 1984. Jackson, a geographer, focused on the everyday experience of places and how people became invested in them. Like Learning from Las Vegas, the book regards everyday life ahead of theory or utopian ideals. His style was proactive and engaging for all audiences.
Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. Dolores Hayden 1984. The development of the American urban landscape seen through a domestic lens. Examining the “architecture of gender,” Hayden provided insight into the relationships between household life, social policies, and the development of cities. Her analysis of the gender implications of different housing and land use strategies led to a greater awareness of the connections between physical environments and constructed social roles.
Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. Kenneth T. Jackson 1985. Perhaps the definitive history of 20th century suburbanization, Jackson’s work drew together the many forces–– economic, governmental, and social–– that went into the creation of suburbia. It is among the earliest histories of the American suburbs.
Comprehensive City Planning: Introduction and Explanation. Melville C. Branch 1985. Branch focused on the development of cities and their planning and management. The tie between land use and municipal administration is explored throughout. The book was written to appeal to both a professional and general interest reader.
Home A Short History of an Idea. Witold Rybcyznski 1986. Rybcyznski’s widely read book traces the evolution of domestic living. His focus on influences and ideas that shape the concept of comfort and home set this work apart from more technical discussions of architectural history and won a broad popular audience.
Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning. Carl Patton, David S. Sawicki 1986. Often required reading, the book lays out the paradigm for policy analysis and integrates policy analysis and planning. The authors explored the complex challenges in urban life and the decisions about how to address them. They examine what sorts of information get used, and by whom, in what contexts.
Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space. Jan Gehl 1987. An important influence on urban designers, Gehl created a comprehensive discussion of how to design good places and spaces, at all scales. Profusely illustrated, the photos and captions carry much of the thesis. Like William Whyte, Gehl focused on the social lives that unfold in public spaces and their importance for planners.
Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. Peter Geoffrey Hall 1988. Hall provided a comprehensive examination of all the major European and American planning movements starting from the late 1800s towards the end of the 20th century. He illuminates the philosophic underpinnings of each movement, and also the key actors, background, and the results. A focused discussion looked at the tension between the ideals of “anarchists,” such as Howard, Geddes, and Wright, and those of strict order, represented by Le Corbusier.
Mastering Change: Winning Strategies for Effective City Planning. Bruce McClendon, Ray Quay 1988. One of the few books devoted to planning management and strategy, this practical guide provides a wide array of tactics for understanding how the public reacts to change and what planners should do to increase their effectiveness.
Small Town Planning Handbook. Tom Daniels, John W. Keller, Mark B. Lapping 1988. Small town planning has received less attention than city planning. This book succinctly organizes helpful strategies for the small town planner with limited in staff and budget. The authors provided guidance on the nuts-andbolts work of small town planners. The book has continued in new editions.
Land Use and the Constitution: Principles for Planning Practice. Brian Blaesser, Alan Weinstein 1989. The legal challenges to planning and the regulatory tools of planning have shaped the field profoundly. This practical guide explains eight constitutional principles and applies them to real-world planning situations. The authors provided detailed summaries of more than 50 U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Making Equity Planning Work: Leadership in the Public Sector. Norman Krumholz, John Forester 1990. The book provides one of the first detailed personal accounts of a sustained and effective equity-planning practice that influenced urban policy. Recounting their real-life experiences in equity planning in Cleveland, the authors give a clear illustration through case studies.
Edge City Life on the New Frontier. Joel Garreau 1991. Garreau examines America’s “edge cities” or suburban cities, chronicling their rise across the country over the past 100 years. His work changed the perception of suburbia and its role relative to central cities. As people moved to suburbs, so did employment. The size and number of these cities influences how planning now approaches edge cities and their social implications.
Great Streets. Allan B. Jacobs 1993. Jacobs demonstrates the importance of streets as placemaking elements through beautifully drafted plans and illustrations of worthy prototypes. He explores how design shapes a street and the importance of streets in creating community.
The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community. Peter Katz et al. 1994. A seminal work, the book that introduced new urbanism to a wide popular audience and enthusiastic professionals, Katz and colleagues offered case studies and handsome illustrations to make their points. The book captured the movement to reestablish a sense of neighborhood and community in face of sprawl.
Visions for a New American Dream: Process, Principles, and an Ordinance to Plan and Design Small Communities. Anton Nelessen 1994. The growing sophistication and emphasis on tools for helping communities visualize growth and change was encapsulated in Nelessen’s book. His Visual Preference Survey was one of the first visioning tools. In addition, his ability to illustrate neotraditional design helped awaken an interest in historic character and quality of design that emerged in force as a planning concern in the 1990s.
Rural By Design Maintaining Small Town Character. Randall Arendt 1994. Growing out of his work in New England and an appreciation for the design of small communities, Arendt revealed how towns could grow and maintain their character through density, good site planning, and compatible design. His work reinforced efforts to achieve growth management, address sprawl, and the conserve natural and cultural landscapes. Arendt offered, with grace and humor, practical solutions to guiding growth and conserving land.
Ethical Land Use Principles of Policy and Planning. Timothy Beatley 1994. Planning as a professional with an adopted code of ethics expanded its view of ethical professional practice in this work. Beatley maintained that planning policy decisions invariably involve ethical choices and used actual case studies and hypothetical scenarios to guide planners to ethical choices in their everyday work.
The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape. James Howard Kunstler 1994. Tracing America’s evolution from tightknit and coherent communities to a landscape of sprawl and anonymity, Kunstler discussed the stark economic, social, and spiritual costs paid for this lifestyle. Kunstler’s impact was to call attention to the loss of community identity. He called upon readers to reinvent the places of live and work for a revived civic art and life.
Best Development Practices: Doing the Right Thing and Making Money at the Same Time. Reid Ewing 1996. Ewing draws upon case examples of some of today’s most acclaimed developments and recommends best practice guidelines to help developers create vibrant, livable communities— and still make money. One of the rare studies of how places are developed using sound planning principles (at least in part) and measures the result. The books practical advice proved to be a great draw.
Natural Hazard Mitigation: Recasting Disaster Policy and Planning. David R. Godschalk, Timothy Beatley, Philip Berke, David J. Brower, Edward J. Kaiser, Charles C. Bohl, R. Matthew Goebel 1999. The role of planning in hazard mitigation and recovery appeared on the agenda in the 1990s as the issues of climate change and sustainability became more pressing. This book, one of the first thorough discussions of the issue, provided insight into how hazard mitigation both worked and needed to be reformed.
Transportation for Livable Cities. Vukan R. Vuchic 1999. Vuchic placed transportation at the heart good planning. He explores its role in smart growth and sustainable urban living, covering everything from roads and transit to traffic calming.
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Robert Putnam 2000. The book described a major shift in American life and politics that had largely gone unnoticed. Putnam examined the past 40 years and observed that social participation had changed. Because of the modern demands on time, established volunteer associations important to the community fabric had lost significant membership. The book provoked debate and awakened insight into how people live their lives, expect services, and contribute to the community, and what they expect of government and politics.
The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl. Peter Calthorpe, William Fulton 2000. Regionalism as a focus of planning reemerged in this work that demonstrated how regional planning and design can integrate, revitalize, and provide a coherent vision for growth. Many of the concepts of new urbanism were extended to the regional scale and include a special emphsis on transit and design.
Planning Theory for Practitioners. Michael P. Brooks 2002. Brooks brought planning theory to an understandable, usable level for practitioners. His discussion of values and ethics were especially informative.
The Rise of the Creative Class And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. Richard Florida 2002. While others came before Florida and developed the evaluation methods and tools in the book, the author was the first to put the information together in a compelling and understandable format. The book revolutionized today’s urban planning and economic development field. It reawakened decision makers in America to the value and power of strong central cities.
The Birth of City Planning in the United States, 1840-1917. Jon A. Peterson 2003. Peterson provides the best and most detailed overview of the early years of the planning movement, which saw Progressive activists, public-health advocates, and business interests unite in the cause of more livable cities.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. Erik Larson 2004. The book brings alive the history of early planners, including Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, for a general audience. He draws attention to work many still know nothing about. In vivid––and sometimes graphic detail––Larson paints a poignant and convincing story of the obstacles planners and architects face when approaching mammoth projects––not least of which, a world’s fair.
The High Cost of Free Parking. Donald C. Shoup 2005. Donald Shoup set the world of traffic management on its ear with his impassioned and thorough demolition of decades of conventional wisdom. By demonstrating the direct, indirect, social, and intangible costs of easily available parking, Shoup set the stage for municipalities to change their codes and mind-sets to create parking management systems that put cars second and instead support the creation of complete streets, safe streetscapes, and healthier downtowns.
Urban Transit: Operations, Planning, and Economics. Vukan R. Vuchic 2005. This comprehensive work covers the full range of issues involved in the operation, planning, and financing of transit systems. Vuchic presents both theoretical concepts and practical, real world methodologies for managing and improving transit planning.
Planning and Urban Design Standards. Megan Lewis, et al. 2006. The most comprehensive reference book on urban planning, design, and development available today. The book comprises contributions from more than 200 renowned professionals and provides in-depth information on the tools and techniques used to achieve planning and design outcomes, including economic analysis, mapping, visualization, legal foundations, and real estate developments.