Chapter 13

The Urban World,
J. John Palen
Chapter 13: Planning, New Towns, and
New Urbanism
American Planning
20th-Century Patterns
European Planning
New Towns
American New Towns
New Urbanism or Traditional Neighborhood
• Ancient Greece and Rome
– The Greeks gave little attention to the physical
arrangement of their communities
– The Roman provincial cities were modeled after
the gridiron pattern of encampment used by the
Roman legions
• Renaissance and Later Developments
– Planners in the 16th and 17th centuries often
designed stylized and static artificial communities
– The 19th-century redesign of Paris must be listed
among the more successful attempts at city
American Planning
• Washington, D.C.
– Pierre L’Enfant’s plan for Washington, D.C., is the
best-known example of North American town
planning during the 18th and 19th centuries
• 19th-Century Towns
– During the 19th century, little creative energy went
into designing the rapidly multiplying new towns
– The Federal Land Ordinance of 1785 encouraged
the gridiron pattern, since it divided all lands west
of the Mississippi into units of one square mile
• Early Planned Communities
– Historically, totally planned communities have not
fared well in North America
• Parks
– In 1857, Frederick Law Olmsted began building
Central Park on 843 acres of wasteland
– It inspired other cities to copy New York’s
successful plan
– There was a pronounced profit as well as an
aesthetic motive in creating parks
• The City Beautiful Movement
– Emerged from the World’s Columbian Exposition
held in Chicago in 1893
– City leaders were determined to make a good
impression, and their goal was to create a modern
wonder; the famous White City, lit at night by the
then-new electric light bulbs
– It was a solid, conscious, and sincere attempt to
improve the urban environment
– The greatest weakness was that it almost totally
ignored the problem of housing, particularly that
of the slums
• Tenement Reform
– The early 20th century saw a movement by social
reformers such as Jane Addams to improve the
quality of life in inner-city slums
– Many desperately needed housing improvements
were made as a result of the campaigns of the
reformers, but crime, violence, and alcoholism
were not banished as a result
– The relationship between housing and social
behavior is complex and unfortunately not
amenable to simple brick-and-mortar solutions
20th-Century Patterns
• The City Efficient
– The emphasis shifted from the city beautiful to
the city efficient
– Bold city planning was replaced by city
– Planning and land-use regulation through zoning
became the accepted functions of local
• Zoning and Beyond
– Zoning, which became a force in the U.S. with the
New York City Zoning Resolution of 1916, was
originally seen as a device to “prevent the intrusion of
improper uses into homogenous areas”
– What made zoning significant was that now “bad”
usages could be controlled by law
– Zoning was used before the Fair Housing Act of 1968
as a means of enforcing racial segregation
– New York City has now moved to a hands-off policy
– Houston, TX, is the only major city in North America
without any zoning laws
• Master Plans to Equity Planning
– Became the hallmark of city-planning agencies from the
1920s to the 1970s
– The purpose of the master plan was to coordinate and
regulate all phases of city development
– The death blow for many a master plan was the upsurge
of urban renewal and other development plans after
World War II
• Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
– CPTED used by providing natural access control with
house fences and shrubs, placing windows so open areas
can be observed, using sidewalks, porches, and
landscaping to define boundaries, and using street
design to discourage criminal activity
European Planning
• The major ways in which European planning
differs from American planning are these:
– Government planning is expected and accepted as
– There is greater governmental control of land
– Housing subsidies are commonplace
– Public transportation is widely used
• Planning and Control of Land
– Some European cities enjoy the advantage of
control over their own municipal lands
– Europe also has a tradition of urban planning
– Land-use systems are not socially neutral
• Housing Priorities
– During the postwar period there was heavy
emphasis on clearing slums and war-damaged
central areas and on building new towns on the
urban periphery
– In western Europe, high-rise housing projects are
in disfavor, and the focus is on gentrification of
older neighborhoods
• Transportation
– In more densely populated European cities public
transportation is the norm
– In order to decrease auto usage many European cities
use congestion pricing, where they charge motorists to
drive into the center of the city
• Urban Growth Policies
– European countries have national land-use or growth
– Many countries are seeking to stem migration to the
largest centers
– Manufacturers are given economic incentives to invest
in depressed areas needing growth
• The Dutch Approach
– The Netherlands is the most densely populated
country in Europe
– The majority of the Dutch population is found in a
megalopolis, known as the randstad, or “rim city”
– The Dutch have kept their town compact, and
valuable woods and fields are kept as a reserve for
the use of all
– A system of local, regional, and national controls
prevents urban sprawl
New Towns
• British New Towns
– The new town movement owes its origins to Ebenezer
Howard who proposed building whole new
communities in a book
– The towns were to be completely planned, with all
land held in public ownership to prevent speculation
– First Towns
• The first garden city at Letchworth was plagued by many
• The second new town, Welwyn Garden City, was started in
1920. It eventually surmounted initial crises, and today is a
pleasant and prosperous community
Figure 13.1
Garden City and Rural Belt Model
Howard’s garden cities were designed to be self-sufficient and selfcontained communities. Note that the rail lines do not enter the city
– Government Involvement
• WW II led to the Greater London Plan of 1944, with new
towns as one part of a four-part policy
• The British government became directly involved in building
new towns through the New Towns Act of 1946
• The government altered Howard’s original scheme
• The new towns have not significantly altered social behavior
• New Towns in Europe
– European new towns are really extensions of the
older city into the countryside, rather than attempts
to create new rural or suburban utopian communities
– All were initiated, planned, and financed by the
– Social problems have resulted in the ending of new
town building
American New Towns
• Public-Built New Towns
– The U.S. government designed, financed, built, and for
a decade managed three planned greenbelt towns
surrounded by areas of open land
– Public Law 65 of 1949 mandated that all the homes
built by the government be sold
• Federal Support for New Towns
– Congress in 1968 and 1970 voted federal funds and
technical aid to developers and guaranteed each
developer’s bonds
– In 1974, the Ford administration ended support
– The government lost $570 million
• Private New Towns: Reston, Columbia, and
– The best known and most successful new towns
– Privately financed
• Research Parks
– Research Triangle is the most famous businessoriented research park
– Communities seek office and research parks
because they bring nonpolluting, high-tech, and
high-employment to the area
– There are real limits to the number of such
enterprises possible in a region
New Urbanism or Traditional
Neighborhood Developments
• New Urbanism developers and planners follow
smart growth practices
• New Urbanism is designed to minimize auto
• Celebration
– Built by the Walt Disney Company outside Orlando
– Many aspects of the residents lives are controlled
– For those with above-average incomes
– Failed to be racially diverse
• Creating Community
– New Urbanism communities are connected by
traditional right-angle grids so there are multiple ways of
getting somewhere
– Streets are kept narrow, and sidewalks are required
– Built to a higher density and with a mix of income levels
– Designed to encourage a mixture of people and activities
in order to create busy streets
• Limitations
– Will people be willing to reduce their reliance on autos?
– The question of how much community design can affect
– May just become a niche market for affluent home

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