• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, the built environment, planning adjacent topics, and anything else that comes to mind. No ads, no spam, and it's free. It's easy to join!

Planning After Kennedy Years

Earl Finkler

With Nov. 22 being the 40th anniversary of the killing of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, I was wondering if anyone thinks about the course of this country after the deaths of John and his brother Robert and Martin Luther King. We lost so much.
Did that forever chill the enthusiasm and idealism of the 1960s, or has idealism in planning remained?
I tend to think the post-Kennedy years were different, although I did not personally start my planning career till 1967.
There just seemed to be a real spirit of the new frontier and public service in the country. I think a lot of that was lost. Anyone else have a view?
Stay strong planners!


I recall the 60's as a time when young Americans took the country away from their elders - in politics, lifestyle, fashion, art, philosophy, war, and the like. The Kennedy's were politicians who took that younger view of America into national politics. There was idealism in the White House and in the country.

As I look around now, a lot of young Americans are soundinglike the 50-70 year olds of the 1960's, and I don't see a lot of idealism. Just reading this board, representing one of the more progressive of professions, I see a lot of posts with extreme non-progressive views. I am assuming many of those are young planners. And I wonder where we are headed.

The U.S. is more firmly in the hands of corporate America than in the grey flannel suit era of the 1950's (which was one of the economic/social paradigms that the 60's rebellion opposed). I think America today looks a lot more like the late 1800's where the robber barons and monopolies held such complete sway over the country, its economy, and its politicians.

I am waiting for a new progressive movement. I would like to see some Kennedy idealism again. Here's a quote by John Kennedy about being "liberal".

But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
Last edited:

Perry Norton

Cyburbian Emeritus
I think I agree with the first replier. Among the youngish planners I detect a certain Bushism and I am thrown off by this. I am 83 and I find myself worrying that those about my age may be dying off faster than they can be replaced.