The Many Strands of New Urbanism

The most influential planning trend of recent decades began with a small group of urbanists with varied interests who decided to pool their talents. Peter Katz, founding executive director of CNU, recounts their story and airs some dirty laundry.

"The occasion of the Twentieth Congress of the New Urbanism provides an opportunity to reconsider the early history of the New Urbanism movement. If one regards the movement as a success (more on this later), many individuals and groups would likely step forward to claim credit."

Katz, who's in as good a position as anyone to recap the early development of New Urbanism, explores the roots of New Urbanism through the development of key initiatives and documents including Peter Calthorpe's "pedestrian pocket" initiative and the "Ahwahnee Principles," and recounts the conflicts that arose around them.

"Indeed, the movement that we know today as New Urbanism (and its close cousin, Smart Growth) may be thought of as a rope comprised of many different strands of various colors and textures that have come together over time...The diversity of all these varied strands hasn't weakened the rope; if anything, the movement we now call New Urbanism has become stronger for all these influences. But the process of weaving these strands together was not without conflict."

Thanks to Rob Steuteville

Full Story: CNU at 20: A recollection

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