Outline of Town and City Planning: A Review of past Efforts and Modern Aims

Outline of Town and City Planning: A Review of past Efforts and Modern Aims

Outline of Town and City Planning: A Review of past Efforts and Modern Aims

Outline of Town and City Planning: A Review of past Efforts and Modern Aims

Excerpt

City and town planning is a science, an art, and a movement of policy concerned with the shaping and guiding of the physical growth and arrangement of towns in harmony with their social and economic needs. We pursue it as a science to obtain knowledge of urban structure and services and the relation of its constituent parts and processes of circulation; as an art to determine the layout of the ground, the arrangement of land uses and ways of communication and the design of the buildings on principles that will secure order, health, and efficiency in development; and as a movement of policy to give effect to our principles.

The foregoing definition makes it obvious that we shall confuse our minds if we think of city planning in one only of its three categories. This confusion has prevailed in the past owing to the failure to distinguish properly between city planning as an act and city planning as an art. Many writers have suggested that city planning is a substitute for want of planning, or for what is called "unregulated growth." It is clear, however, that merits or defects in towns have not been owing to the presence or absence of planning but to the way in which the planning has been done. The chief defects in modern cities are because of piecemeal planning, mainly by real estate developers in their private interests and without adequate consideration for the community as a whole. The result is a hodge-podge of unrelated plans, based largely on existing highway routes and rural divisions of land, with no greater amount of co-ordination than is secured by uniform building and street regulations.

The mere act of planning in itself may be valueless, may even be harmful. Sinclair Lewis illustrates the point when he makes one of his characters in Main Street say of Gopher Prairie that it must have taken genius to make it so scrawny. What matters is not whether we plan but whether we plan intelligently. This means, first, that we must have sound social and economic objectives . . .

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