100 Essential Books of Planning: Decade Five


A golden age for planning, the 1950s also left a legacy that planning has been reacting to ever since. Building, boom times, and the codification of education for planners were hallmarks of the era. Planning continued to grow in sophistication and more authors attempted to capture standards and accepted practice.

Toward New Towns for America

Clarence S. Stein

Stein was a co-founder of the Regional Planning Association of America, a co-designer of the iconic planned town of Radburn, and an advocate for the federal new town planning program. His book highlights his pedestrian-friendly, greenbelt-influenced designs for neighborhoods and towns.

Urban Traffic

A Function of Land Use
Robert B. Mitchell, Chester Rapkin

This book pioneered the concept that urban traffic patterns resulted from land uses and their resulting activities. Although the link had been made between traffic and planning quite early, Mitchell and Rapkin showed how it could be measured and studied. Their concept became accepted thinking throughout the profession.

Politics, Planning, and the Public Interest

The Case of Public Housing in Chicago
Martin Meyerson, Edward C. Banfield

Meyerson and Banfield saw planning as firmly enmeshed within politics and urban management. Gary Hack explains that Meyerson believed "making the plan has to be inherently a process that organizes public and political support."

The Heart of Our Cities

The Urban Crisis, Diagnosis and Cure
Victor Gruen

The father of the mid-20th century shopping mall, architect and planner Gruen wrote this treatise on how to approach the redevelopment of cities. He viewed malls as the center pieces of new urban towns.

The Organization Man

William H. Whyte

"Recognized as a benchmark, Whyte's book reveals the dilemmas at the heart of the group ethos that emerged in the corporate and social world of the postwar era." This is Nathan Glazer's assessment. The book examines the impact of large scale organization on society, including planned suburban communities and the belief in the endless perfection of life and society. Whyte revealed the cost to the individual in terms of initiative and creativity.

Education for Planning

City, State, and Regional
Harvey S. Perloff

This book became the foundation for planning education as Perloff gave intellectual coherence to the field. He outlined what he called "the integrated set of learning experiences which would permit the student ... to rediscover ... principles ... and learn to apply them in a problem-solving setting."

Standard Industrial Classification

Bureau of the Budget

The standard classification project began in 1937 and in the 1950s a broader project was undertaken to classify both manufacturing and non-manufacturing in the United States. This massive effort integrated diverse statistical data that allowed planners, researchers, and communities to access wide ranging data in standardized classifications such as types of employment.

Urban Land Use Planning

F. Stuart Chapin

Accepted as one of the standard texts on planning practice, the book describes planning as a "big stakes game in a multi-party competition." Therefore, the book continues the tradition of looking at planning within a political and local governmental context, but also as a competition among interests.

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