True Urbanism

Living In and Near the Center

By Mark Hinshaw, FAICP

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Mark Hinshaw has a proposition for Americans: Come out of the bunker, throw open the gates, and meet the neighborhood.

In this passionate appeal, he introduces those who have already done just that and explains what cities can do to make true urbanism possible. He rejoices in the growing number of people rejecting sterile, paint-by-numbers subdivisions in favor of vibrant and unpredictable u...

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Date Published
March 31, 2007
APA Planners Press

About the Authors

Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw is a Principal, Planner and Urban Designer at Walker Macy, a 30-person firm with offices in Portland and Seattle. For over twenty-five years, he has been responsible for a wide range of projects in large cities, suburban centers, and small towns including downtown development, public spaces and pedestrian facilities, design-oriented codes and guidelines, and master plans for public facilities. He has served as President of the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association and as President of the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. In addition, he has served on the national Board of Directors for the American Institute of Certified Planners. From 1982-1990, he was Principal Urban Designer for the City of Bellevue, WA, helping guide its transformation from a nondescript collection of strip centers to an intense, mixed use, transit-oriented urban center. A Seattle resident, he has served on the Seattle Design Commission, which reviews all public projects, and he has chaired the Downtown Design Review Board, which reviews private development in the core area of the city. He has also served on the Mayor’s Housing Levy Oversight Committee, which monitors the use of funds from a voter-approved low income housing tax. And he served on the board of directors for the Seattle Housing Resources Group (now HRG Seattle) which has developed more than 2000 units of below-market rate housing within and near downtown Seattle. Hinshaw lectures widely on the subject of urban design at conferences and workshops. He has written for a number of professional design journals, including Landscape Architecture, Places, Planning, and Architecture. And between 1992 and 2004, he wrote a regular column on architecture and urban design for The Seattle Times. Currently, we writes for an on-line magazine called He authored the Planning Advisory Service report entitled Design Review, which is still the only manual available to local governments on the subject. His has authored two books: Citistate Seattle: Shaping a Modern Metropolis (1999) and True Urbanism: Living In and Near the Center (2007). He also serves at the chief urban designer for The Seattle Housing Authority on the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Case for True Urbanism
Demography, Density, and Diversity
Different Cultures, Different Values
Constant Change, Many Choices
Commerce, Culture, and Quirkiness
Streets as Public Living Rooms
Urbanism and Active Living
Density and Children
Public-Sector Investment, Private-Sector Response
Re-Forming Regulations
New Imperatives for a New Era
Appendix: Selected Case Studies


"Great cities and neighborhoods packed with people evoke our social side; arguably they make us fully human. Mark Hinshaw describes and celebrates some of the best-vibrant, glamorous, workaday, or gritty places, teeming with people and interest. True Urbanism is a lively assortment of such places, including strong new entries in America's once wild and rural West."

—Neal Peirce, Syndicated Columnist and Chairman of the Citistates Group