100 Essential Books of Planning: Decade Two


Planning's complexity began to reveal itself throughout this decade as architects, landscape architects, economists, and sociologists contributed to the practice and definition of the profession.

This decade also announced the arrival of international modernist aesthetic and philosophy that confidently proclaimed the era of the modern, rebuilt, and machine-influenced city.

The City

Robert E. Park, Ernest W. Burgess, Roderick D. McKenzie, Louis Wirth

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

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

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

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

Co-founder of the Wilderness Society, Benton MacKaye advocated in this work for land preservation for recreation and conservation. MacKaye linked planning to conservation.


A Study in Contemporary American Culture
Robert Staughton Lynd, Helen Merrell Lynd

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

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.

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