Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners

It's Halloween and that means it's costume time. But, what's that you say? Too busy updating your comprehensive plan to find a costume? Well, don't fret! I've got some last-minute costume ideas for the busy urban planner that are both fun and planning related.

I know what you must be thinking, what kind of costume could possibly be planning related? There's tons! And here are just a few:

Big Box

This one is incredibly straightforward. Just find yourself a big cardboard box, cut some arm holes and bam! You're a 150,000 square-foot mega-retailer ready to crush local business and drain the traditional downtown! And look! There's a sale on candy corn on aisle 29!

Bike Lane

Here's an easy one. Just get some black clothes and some white tape. Make two strong lines from each foot to each shoulder and tape out a simple bike on your torso in between. Fashionable and bikeable.


This costume is more of a role-playing challenge. Try to take up as much room as possible. Drink a lot of water. Bring two cars. And wherever you go, make sure it's at least 20 miles away.

New Urbanism

Go all-pastel. Invite someone to sit on your lap –er, front porch.

Urban Growth Boundary

This is a good one for making friends. Get yourself a hula hoop and see how many people can fit inside. How many people can your region support?

Public Transit

You'll need a good back for this one. Just slap a bus number on your chest and offer piggy-back rides. You can call yourself a carpool if you want, but public transit is much more inclusive.

Historic Preservation

Requirement: you have to be old for this one. All you have to do is find some old clothes in your closet (preferably from at least 20 years ago), and wear them. You're probably wearing them already, so you're good to go. Thanks for keeping the past alive!


This costume pretty much requires you to make other people's costumes worse. You can choose your own method, but you might find it easiest to spill drinks on people, dishevel some wigs, or just break some noses.

Green Roof

Just get a hat, find some leaves, add glue and you're done. Be sure to tell people how much energy you're saving by cooling yourself from the top down.

Transit Oriented Development

This is the ideal costume if you're going out with a group. One person dresses up like a bus and everyone else goes as buildings. Just remember to stay close to each other. But if you do get separated, you can still be transit adjacent development.

So you see? It's easy to make last-minute costumes that are fun and planning-related. Let me know how your costumes turn out. Send in some pictures.

But please, don't use any of these costume ideas for your kids. They will definitely get beaten up.
Nate Berg is a contributing editor for Planetizen and freelance journalist.



Jeffrey Barg's picture


This cracked me up.

Mike Lydon's picture

Happy Halloween!


I am dressed like a bike lane today. The costume? blue/grey jeans (because that's the color of most well-trafficked pavement) and a blue t-shirt that says "More Bike Lanes" in orange. The back features two long, white stripes from feet to shoulder, as suggested. An Arrow and a crudely fashioned tapecycle round this one out.

Maybe I'll dress like this everyday...

Viva la Velorution!


Chris Steins's picture

And if all else fails

You can go as Joe the Urban Planner.

(Reference for those not following the campaign:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_the_plumber )

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