Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners - 2nd Edition

It's almost Halloween, and that means it's time to celebrate America's most important holiday by dressing up in a silly costume. But what's that? Tired of culturally relevant costumes? Don't want the general public to have any idea what you are? Prefer a drawn-out, interest-losing explanation of an obscure and wonky costume concept? Then you're in luck, because I happily present the second edition list of the best urban planning costume ideas.

One way to celebrate Halloween is to dress up like a city. This costume could rely heavily on stereotypes, but can also be influenced by current affairs. For example, get yourself a black eye and put your arm in a sling, and bam, you're Detroit. Or block some traffic and set up lawn chairs on a local street and you're New York City. Or you could get Brad Pitt to follow you around and be New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.

This may be the most relevant costume idea this year.Just get some cardboard and build yourself inside four walls and a roof – and don't forget to board up you doors and windows. For added effect, go with a group of people in foreclosed home costumes and some dark eye makeup and you're a zombie subdivision. Scary!

LEED Certified
Do you care about the environment? Do you want strangers to know you care about the environment? If you answered yes and yes, the perfect Halloween costume for you is a LEED Certification. Simply pick a certification level (silver, gold or platinum), and color-code yourself accordingly. But don't get your platinum certification mistaken for a silver; make sure to tell people about your double-paned windows and graywater reuse plans.

Walkable Neighborhood
Simply paint a bunch of footprints all over your clothes to show how easy it is to get around you on foot. Walkscore of you: 100!

Carbon Footprint
Or just paint one big black foot and be a carbon footprint (Note: size of footprint varies by region and lifestyle).

This costume requires two things: white clothing and lots of markers. Ask your fellow community members to write down their advice and suggestions.

Urban Garden
Be on the cutting edge of urban trends with this urban garden costume. Just attach a few vegetables to your shirt (your personal front yard), and you're instantly a local food advocate and a hero in the fight against the 2,000 mile salad. In your face, globalized food market. Extra points if you have a chicken.

This one's easy. Just pick your favorite color, wear it from head to toe, and label yourself with your favorite zoning classification. Go mainstream with an R-1, or get fringe with a C-7A.

Floor-Area Ratio (Wonk Alert)
This costume illustrates the concept of floor area ratio over the course of the night. At first the ratio is low, as you'll likely be standing and dispersing yourself over a relatively small land area. But by the end of the night when you're passed out on the floor after the party, you'll be taking up much more land area and will therefore represent a much higher FAR. Another planning concept made easy, all in the name of fun. Make sure to have "FAR" written on your chest to educate those around you. (Also a great way to meet the ladies.)

If these don't do it for you, check out last year's suggestions, including blight, historic preservation, and bike lane, as displayed below (along with some equally nerdy/awesome transportation-themed costumes).

Urban Planning Halloween Costumes 

A traffic cone, a traffic light, and a bike lane celebrating Halloween, urban planning style!

Nate Berg is a contributing editor for Planetizen and freelance journalist.



no costumes needed

Most urban planners don't need halloween costumes as they are scary enough without them.

Classic Skyline Hats from Beach Blanket Babylon

If you truly want to represent a city, you can't find better inspiration than the city skyline hats from Beach Blanket Babylon.

San Francisco skyline hat: http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/showpics/hat_01.shtml
Washington DC skyline hat: http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/showpics/hat_06.shtml
London skyline hat: http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/showpics/hat_12.shtml

Come on. Paris and Sydney would be so easy...!

Foreclosure costumes

I like the foreclosure idea.

What a bunch of nerds a room full of planners dressed in planning related costumes would be!

Left Us Out!


First off I love your series of halloween costumes, but why do you have to leave out the architects! We are people too! All I could find so far is this list (http://www.buildingcollector.com/angie's list/2010/10/architecture-halloween-costumes.html), but I have a feeling you could come up with something much more creative. If you ever feel like including the guys who design the buildings let me know and we can throw together something catchy.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
Melissa and Doug Town Blocks Wooden Play Set

Block play meets role play

New! Town block set from Melissa and Doug Toys