Beginning with the first U.S. planned urban development, St. Augustine, Fla., and ending with one of Portland's newest neighborhoods, the Pearl District, host Geoffrey Baer takes us through ten developments that left their mark, for better or worse.
"10 Towns that Changed America focuses on ten 'experimental' towns that did not evolve organically over time, but instead were designed (or redesigned) from the ground up by visionary architects, corporations, and citizens, who sought to change the lives of residents using architecture, design, and urban planning," states the introduction to the PBS special produced by WTTW, Chicago's NPR affiliate.
However, "visionary" does not always produce good results, as some examples show. While (#7) Levittown in Long Island (as well as those in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Puerto Rico) might have been a boon for new residents fleeing cities, African Americans were excluded, and their legacy in urban planning includes "build(ing) the foundation of suburban sprawl that we have today," writes Erin Chantry in "The Legacy of Levittown."
A better example among the ten examples of well-intentioned urban planning gone awry is (#8) Southwest Washington, DC.
The Southwest DC development approach defined a new concept in planning: "urban renewal." Urban renewal started with a bulldozer and continued with the construction of Modernist towers and "superblocks" dedicated solely to housing, versus the mixed uses of the old neighborhood.
The ten towns, which can be cities, suburbs, or districts, are presented in this order, with links to the description and video provided by WTTW beginning with Philadelphia (PBS takes care of St. Augustine, as well as providing links for a 30-second preview and the 56-minute program).
- St. Augustine, FL WATCH CLIP
- Philadelphia, PA
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Riverside, IL
- Pullman – Chicago, IL
- Greenbelt, MD
- Levittown, NY
- Southwest Washington, D.C.
- Seaside, FL
- Pearl District – Portland, OR
Produced by WTTW, Chicago, the website for "10 Towns that Changed America," that also includes 10 additional towns not shown in the PBS program on April 19.
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HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Rowan University's Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability
City Of Oakland
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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.