Images for Planning: Free Internet Resources

<p class="MsoNormal"> Visual communication is becoming more sophisticated in planning, however many online image sources are restricted and require payment for use. Others, such as flikr.com and Google Images are extremely useful but have uneven quality and information provided about the images can be difficult to assess. While flckr.com and Google Images will remain a key resource, a number of other online image databases provide more consistent metadata along with free access. </p>

July 31, 2008, 8:40 AM PDT

By Ann Forsyth


Visual communication is becoming more sophisticated in
planning, however many online image sources are restricted and require payment for use. Others,
such as flikr.com and Google Images are extremely useful but have uneven quality
and information provided about the images can be difficult to assess. While flckr.com and Google Images will remain a key resource, a
number of other online image databases provide more consistent metadata along with free access.

  • Irin, the news service of the United Nations Office for the
    Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has wonderful, high quality images from
    around the world. Users wanting high resolution images need to register, but
    image use is free and I've had good luck getting permission to reprint photos
    in publications. Go to: http://www.irinnews.org/photo.aspx
  • The American Memory collection in the Library of
    Congress has a rich collection of historical photos. Not all are digitized but
    if you search for a key word, then slect "gallery view" as the display option
    you'll see where images are available. Go to: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html
  • The Lincoln Institute's new web site on Visual
    Tools for Planners, under the direction of Lew Hopkins, has
    handy examples of planning graphics. It seems to be still under development but could become a key resource. See: http://www.lincolninst.edu/subcenters/VTP/
  • Another great source for ideas about finding
    images is the blog of Karen Brummand, the digital image instruction guru at Cornell. While some images she lists are restricted, her blog illustrates her great resourcefulness in locating images on the web. The digital image section and a special list on global cities are both useful.

Some of my earlier posts have pointed to video and film resources
available online as well as planning scholarship available for free. In
upcoming months I'll be investigating various topics related to how planners
communicate, including more on visual communication.


Ann Forsyth

Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth is a professor of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. From 2007-2012 she was a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell.

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

A Gold Line AnsaldoBreda P2550 train enters Mission Station in South Pasadena on February 25, 2012.

Land Banking to Prevent Transit-Oriented Displacement in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will implement a new land banking program to mitigate gentrification and displacement around future transit lines.

June 28, 2022 - Los Angeles Daily News

Colorado Homes

Something Old, Something New: Biden’s Housing Plan

President Biden’s Housing Supply Action Plan is a catchall of existing proposals, tiny tweaks, and things Congress would have to fund—plus a few genuinely interesting administrative moves. Here’s the rundown.

4 minutes ago - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of inflatable floating water park in Long Beach, California.

Long Beach Opens New Water Playground

The coastal city just celebrated the grand opening of its newest beach attraction, an inflatable aquatic playground called the “Wibit.”

1 hour ago - Signal Tribune

View south along Interstate 45 (North Freeway) from the ramp between westbound Interstate 10 and southbound Interstate 45 in Houston, Harris County, Texas

Houston Apartments To Be Demolished for Freeway Widening

Despite a federal hold on the controversial freeway widening project, the Texas Department of Transportation is pushing ahead with the demolition of an apartment complex in downtown Houston.

2 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Affordable Housing: Principles for Changing Domestic and Global Markets

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.