100 Essential Books of Planning: Decade One


The first decade of planning literature set the foundation for how the field of planning would define itself and how the emerging professional planners would stake their claim. While these first publications addressed planning broadly, others emboldened newly emerging professionals to think of themselves as modern managers of city building and renewal following scientific management principles.

In Chicago, planners reached out for the first time to constituents of elementary school students. Other pioneer practitioners recognized the need to build the legal framework that would allow communities to be planned.

Town Planning in Practice

An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs
(Sir) Raymond Unwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Mulford Robinson was among first writers to meld a 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.

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