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Thread: Top five urban planning books

  1. #1
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    Top five urban planning books

    1) "The Geography of Nowhere" -- Jame Howard Kunstler
    2) "City Boy: Urban Planning, Municipal Politics, and Guerrilla Warfare" -- Mike Tedesco (I may need to bump Kunstler but I'll give it a another read and decide for sure)
    3) "The Rise of the Creative Class" -- Richard Florida (a must read for all economic development professionals)
    4) "Great Streets" Allan Jacobs
    5) "The High Cost of Free Parking" -- Shoup (I forgot his first name)

    For alll you urban thinkers out there, I need something new to read! Give me some ideas. I want to see your top five!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Interesting question. My choices are slightly geographically biased:

    1. The Power Broker by Robert Caro
    2. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (#1 and #2 are best read one right after the other...)
    3.Great Planning Disasters by Peter Hall
    4. Politics of Urban Planning by ??? (a seminal work from the 50's that discusses planning highways in the Twin Cities and how the "non-political" approach to planning did not work well)
    5. Cities without Suburbs by David Rusk

    Honorable mention to Building Suburbia by Dolores Hayden, Streetcar Suburbs by Sam Bass Warner and Crabgrass Frontier by Kenneth Jackson as a suburban triptych. Planning the City on a Hill by Dan Kennedy for Boston urban planning fans. Transportation buffs may like Divided Highways by Tom Lewis

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    I'm reading Caro's book right now -- man is it long, that guy is a surgeon when it comes to detail. I'll have to take a look at the "Politics of Urban Planning." I've never heard of it but sounds interesting.

  4. #4
    A Top 5 er 9

    1. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
    2. The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler
    3. Asphalt Nation by Jane Holtz Kay
    4. Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck
    5. The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
    6. The Wealth of Cities by John Norquist
    7. The Power Broker by Robert Caro
    8. The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup
    9. Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival by Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio
    I'm sure I've missed some but...


    @Melissa And for books to read... I'm about to start working my way through this:
    The 100 Essential Books of Planning http://www.planning.org/centennial/greatbooks/
    Urban Milwaukee "Championing Urban Life In The Cream City"
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the suggestions, Twoaday! I'll check 'em out. Nice call on Comeback Cities, that is a good one.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs
    This is a must read. Many American cities will see a large effort to redevelop 1st ring suburbs, especially sunbelt cities like Atlanta, Washington DC, Pheonix, Dallas, Houston, etc. This book provides some excellent examples of how it was done successfully. I really enjoyed this one and think it needs to be at the top of the list of must reads.

    I would also suggest Getting to Yes. This is a book on negotiation and facilitation. This is a skill that is used every day, but few people know how to do it in a manner to provide maximum benefit. This book will assist with these types of discussions.
    Satellite City Enabler

  7. #7
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Add this one to the list:

    The Hidden Dimension by Edward T. Hall

  8. #8
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    pdf!

    hi , im student of urban and regional planning in iran ( Tarbiat Modares University and im new here.
    i have question , is there any body who has pdf of these books that discuss here?
    thx
    p.o actually i have some pdf that i put here soon. ( as soon as i collect them)

  9. #9
    Member Planter's avatar
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    This list probably dates me as an old fogie, but I consider these to comprise the holy grail of planning literature:

    1. Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs
    2. City, William H. Whyte
    3. Image of the City, Kevin Lynch
    4. Design with Nature, Ian McHarg
    5. The City in History, Lewis Mumford

    In some ways I consider planning literature's hey-day to be past, similar to the literature of fly fishing. With a few exceptions, most modern planning (and fishing) books are just rehashing the same themes, at a dumbed down level, that others have covered more originally and eloquently in past decades or even centuries.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Planter View post
    This list probably dates me as an old fogie, but I consider these to comprise the holy grail of planning literature:

    1. Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs
    2. City, William H. Whyte
    3. Image of the City, Kevin Lynch
    4. Design with Nature, Ian McHarg
    5. The City in History, Lewis Mumford
    I guesss agreeing with you makes me old too.
    I remember most of those as being required reading back when I was in school.
    Oddball
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    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Twoaday View post
    4. Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck

    I am reading this book again for the first time in almost 10 years. I forgot how much I liked it. Though a lot planners are turning away from the influence of Duany and his entourage, I still like the principles they discuss, their motivation, etc. Great read.

  12. #12
    @TerraSapient I'm curious as to what you mean by planners are moving away from their ideas? It seems to me planning for walkable communities is as strong today as it has ever been... just curious?
    Urban Milwaukee "Championing Urban Life In The Cream City"
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Twoaday View post
    @TerraSapient I'm curious as to what you mean by planners are moving away from their ideas? It seems to me planning for walkable communities is as strong today as it has ever been... just curious?
    Aloha Twoaday,
    Maybe I'm just disillusioned. As a pedestrian 90% of the time, I hear a lot of hype about walkable communities, but I rarely feel it on the ground. It feels like the roadside is more of a battleground everyday. Even newer "pedestrian friendly" developments still feel outrageously personal automobile oriented to me—though, I admit, I have not seen all there is to see and now being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean certainly has limited my ability to get out and see some of the newer projects being built.

    On a side note: Hawaii has one of the most walkable climates and urban geographies I have ever experienced, yet very few walk and the newspaper is full of pedestrian fatality or injury horror stories.

    That aside, what I mean by "planners are turning away from the influence of Duany and his entourage" is that a lot planners I talk to or interact with on forums are showing less support for New Urbanism and TND.

    I can sympathize with critics that design cannot cure all the ills of society, but I also feel that New Urbanism is offering solutions to some of the most annoying elements of urban living. That is probably a topic for another thread though...

  14. #14
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    Urban Fortunes by Harvey Molotch and John Logan.


    This book is considered one of the most important books in sociology of the last 50 years, and won the American Sociology Association book-of-the-year award in 1990.

  15. #15
    @TerraSapient I think it is certainly still an uphill battle, but various states have considered or passed "complete" street bills. NYC is building all sorts of bike infrastructure. Various cities have added new light-rail in recent years. CNU is still growing... From what I see the movement is growing, but a long way from making that fundamental shift. just my take
    Urban Milwaukee "Championing Urban Life In The Cream City"
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    These are favorites that haven't been mentioned:

    The Transit Metropolis, Robert Cervero - Amazing book about transit and land use.

    The Ungovernable City, Douglas Yates - A tell-all about bureaucracy and ineffectiveness

    The Politics of Public Space - a collection of essays about the spaces we walk in and inhabit. Haunting

    Shadow Cities - If you haven't read a book about slums you should. Can't say if it's better than Mike Davis' Planet of Slums, but this one's really good.

    Last, I was heavily influenced by a New Yorker article called 'Green Manhattan' which I found amazing. It's about cities as being more environmentally friendly than suburbs, which is probably a no brainer for you all.

  17. #17
    @RPFresh If you were inspired by the 'Green Manhattan' article you'd probably like the book Green Metropolis (which I'm guessing is from the same author). Here's a link to my review of the book.

    Review Link
    Urban Milwaukee "Championing Urban Life In The Cream City"
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    @Twoaday - yup, same author. Thanks for the tip, I'll be picking it up.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I've started to read City Boy. Interesting book so far, tho it does take a bit to get used to the style of writing. I've been in so long now that I've forgotten what a shock your first couple of years can be.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I love 'Married to the Mouse" by Foglesong

    Not a planning book per se in the sense that it was written as a "how to" textbook - but it shows many lessons learned for planners in policy making and collective decision making and economic development, etc.

    Its about the planning of Disney World in FLA.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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