100 Essential Books of Planning: Decade Eight


An era in which authors demonstrate the comprehensiveness of planning. Urban design takes hold once again as prolific authors and practitioners demonstrate the importance of public space, streets, and physical forms. Planners themselves begin to write about the importance of management skills in the world of planning.

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

William H. Whyte

Whyte's careful examination of small spaces and how people behave in them revealed the moral dimension of planning — the responsibility to create healthy public spaces. Whyte's observations were fascinating enough to draw a public readership for his studies.

A Theory of Good City Form

Kevin Lynch

A philosophical classic, the book calls attention to all that we take for granted as normative urban life. In this third of Lynch's influential books, he relates humanist priorities to the actual form of cities, while trying to illuminate what our best and worst physical environments say about us as well as what we can learn from them.

Liveable Streets

Donald Appleyard

Appleyard was a precise observer of street conditions and traffic qualities. His analysis of streets and their traffic patterns demonstrated the link between urban design and social relationships. The book provided quantitative data to support traffic calming policies and established taxonomies of street use, now employed in traffic calming programs.

The Granite Garden

Urban Nature and Human Design
Anne Whiston Spirn

Spirn applied design with nature techniques to an urban setting. Her analysis touched off ecological urbanism movement. Scientific research and urban case studies reveal how familiar natural processes (such as water cycles and photosynthesis) occur in cities and how this should inform planning.

Land, Growth, & Politics

John M. DeGrove

As states began to assert their right to control and direct growth, John DeGrove played an active role in creating the Florida growth management act as well as assessing the ongoing evolution of growth management throughout the country. This early analysis set the stage for ongoing efforts and appraisals of this important movement.

Discovering the Vernacular Landscape

John Brinckerhoff Jackson

Jackson, a geographer, focused on the everyday experience of places and how people became invested in them. Like Learning from Las Vegas, the book regards everyday life ahead of theory or utopian ideals. His style was proactive and engaging for all audiences.

Redesigning the American Dream

The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life
Dolores Hayden

The development of the American urban landscape seen through a domestic lens. Examining the "architecture of gender," Hayden provided insight into the relationships between household life, social policies, and the development of cities. Her analysis of the gender implications of different housing and land use strategies led to a greater awareness of the connections between physical environments and constructed social roles.

Crabgrass Frontier

The Suburbanization of the United States
Kenneth T. Jackson

Perhaps the definitive history of 20th century suburbanization, Jackson's work drew together the many forces — economic, governmental, and social — that went into the creation of suburbia. It is among the earliest histories of the American suburbs.

Comprehensive City Planning

Introduction and Explanation
Melville C. Branch

Branch focused on the development of cities and their planning and management. The tie between land use and municipal administration is explored throughout. The book was written to appeal to both a professional and general interest reader.


A Short History of an Idea
Witold Rybcznski

Rybcznski's widely read book traces the evolution of domestic living. His focus on influences and ideas that shape the concept of comfort and home set this work apart from more technical discussions of architectural history and won a broad popular audience.

Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning

Carl Patton, David S. Sawicki

Often required reading, the book lays out the paradigm for policy analysis and integrates policy analysis and planning. The authors explored the complex challenges in urban life and the decisions about how to address them. They examine what sorts of information get used, and by whom, in what contexts.

Life Between Buildings

Using Public Space
Jan Gehl

An important influence on urban designers, Gehl created a comprehensive discussion of how to design good places and spaces, at all scales. Profusely illustrated, the photos and captions carry much of the thesis. Like William Whyte, Gehl focused on the social lives that unfold in public spaces and their importance for planners.

Cities of Tomorrow

An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century
Peter Geoffrey Hall

Hall provided a comprehensive examination of all the major European and American planning movements starting from the late 1800s towards the end of the 20th century. He illuminates the philosophic underpinnings of each movement, and also the key actors, background, and the results. A focused discussion looked at the tension between the ideals of "anarchists," such as Howard, Geddes, and Wright, and those of strict order, represented by Le Corbusier.

Mastering Change

Winning Strategies for Effective City Planning
Bruce McClendon, Ray Quay

One of the few books devoted to planning management and strategy, this practical guide provides a wide array of tactics for understanding how the public reacts to change and what planners should do to increase their effectiveness.

Small Town Planning Handbook

Tom Daniels, John W. Keller, Mark B. Lapping

Small town planning has received less attention than city planning. This book succinctly organizes helpful strategies for the small town planner with limited in staff and budget. The authors provided guidance on the nuts-and-bolts work of small town planners. The book has continued in new editions.

Land Use and the Constitution

Principles for Planning Practice
Brian Blaesser, Alan Weinstein

The legal challenges to planning and the regulatory tools of planning have shaped the field profoundly. This practical guide explains eight constitutional principles and applies them to real-world planning situations. The authors provided detailed summaries of more than 50 U.S. Supreme Court cases.

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