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Ann Forsyth is professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University.
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Moving Pictures of Planning History: Education Online

Constantly updated, the internet has created an important tool for accessing up-to date information—text, still images, and video. Increasingly it also provides a window into aspects of history, including planning history, that have previously been difficult to find. Documents, indexes to archival materials, and the photographic and map collections of historical societies are accessible online. Less well known are film and video resources—resources that can be played online or downloaded. The Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division now boasts an outstanding collection of hundreds of videos relevant to urban issues.

Some examples illustrate the range:

Where were the planners?

This post is a few weeks after the fact but the recent APA conference only solidified my resolution to say something.  In early April Teddy Cruz gave a lecture here in Philly at the School of Design.  For those of you not familiar with his work, he has a unique and thoughtful perspective on the relationships between culture, planning and design. 

An Inconvenient Map

What is wrong with this map?

“I Want TOD, But I Don’t Want Transit”

Last week I was at an interview for a potential real estate developer client who wanted transit-oriented development (TOD), but weren’t sure he wanted transit. This was a progressive developer who wanted more density, a mix-of uses and walkability. How could it be he wasn’t sure he wanted the planned transit line? Is it possible the developer had it right?

Tips from Your National Park Service

In my hometown—and yours, too, I'm sure—a small, one-story house was for sale, and then it was gone. The guy who bought it promptly tore it down and then, because the new house he had designed was too big for the site, let the hole sit there for a year, a broken tooth in the 1950s neighborhood. Of course, the house he built was still too big for the lot, but there it stands, three feet from his seething neighbors: a McMansion.

Boomer Megacities: Tokyo As a Barometer for the Developed World?

I had heard stories about this the last time I visited Japan in 2004, but this month's Tokyo city briefing from The Economist brought this trend back to my attention. It seems retiring boomers are abandoning their suburban bedroom communities to return to the metropolitan core - presumably to be near friends, cultural attractions, and other amenities (health care? education?). I've seen rumblings of this as well in the New York metro area.

The Persistence of Bad Ideas, Part 1: The Devil Strip

(Prefatory musing: As the title implies, this is Part 1 in a series. I haven't yet mapped out any of the other parts, but considering the boundless errata that clutter American cities, I anticipate little trouble finding objectionables to raise my ire next time my monthly deadline approaches. I welcome my fellow Interchangers to follow suit.)

People Can't Live In A Mini-Mart

This message is brought to you by the frustrated residents of a city where strip malls prosper and the stock of affordable housing struggles to keep up with demand.

Housing Crisis In L.A.

A new strip mall being constructed at the intersection of Venice Blvd. and Western Ave. in Los Angeles inspired this public display.

Strip malls are in no short supply in L.A., and this is just one example of yet another being built in the city. Unmixed-use retail developments like this are popping up all over the place. Much less new housing is being built. And a sharply lower amount of new affordable housing is being built.

Healthy Communities? Check!

The built environment is a significant contributor to community health – a fact that researchers, planners, public health practitioners, and advocates around the country are becoming increasingly aware of. We know, for example, that people who live in more “walkable” communities are in fact more likely to walk. Research has demonstrated that living near a grocery store increases consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Children who live near freeways may suffer from respiratory problems for the rest of their lives. These facts should be particularly important in shaping land use decisions as we face rising costs from the obesity epidemic and other chronic diseases.

This leaves public health advocates wondering just how best to dig into the world of planning.

Smart Growth Has Entered The Mainstream

The Project for Public Spaces has been sending around the e-mail circuit a mock-up of a Time magazine cover dated April 1 (no fooling) 2017, with a “Placemaking” headline acclaiming the triumph of smart growth principles. 2017? They’re being way too modest.

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