Understand urban planning concepts and terms
'White flight' refers to the exodus of white Americans from central cities to suburbs in the early and mid-20 century, a phenomenon which led to declining tax revenue and business closures that created lasting damage to urban neighborhoods.
Urban Growth Boundaries
Some cities and regions limit the growth of sprawl by setting an urban growth boundary—a strict geographic limit on where real estate development can occur.
Another term lacking a consensus definition in the field of planning, "suburb" is usually deployed to describe residential communities outside central urban areas.
Known to some as the 'master builder' and to others as a villain in the history of New York City's development, Robert Moses was an influential and controversial city official who guided the construction of hundreds of projects in the mid-20th century.
Greenfield land has remained untouched by previous development. Some definitions of greenfield land also include agricultural land. Thus, greenfield development encroaches on the natural environment to expand the built environment.
Congestion pricing raises the cost of driving on certain roadways at certain times, reducing traffic,encouraging alternate transportation modes, and generating revenue from the use of infrastructure.
Historic preservation is a controversial, highly contested cause, with a long history of failures and successes in the United States.
Born out of the progressive ideals of the New Deal and a desire to improve the standard of living in poor urban neighborhoods, American public housing has taken several forms as political opinion about subsidized housing shifts.
Master Planned Communities
Now frequently associated with retirees and sprawling developments in the U.S. Sun Belt, master planned communities, also known as new towns or planned communities, were invented as an escape from the haphazard growth of urban areas in the mid-20th century.
Ostensibly intended to improve "blighted" neighborhoods and provide better housing conditions, urban renewal often involved displacement and the wholesale destruction of urban communities.
Farther out than suburbs but still connected to a major urban center, exurbs lie at the ever-shifting border between urban and rural spaces and are defined by economic ties to a city, low density housing, and high population growth.
The comprehensive plan, sometimes also referred to as a master plan or a general plan, is the foundational document of long-term planning and zoning in the United States.
Sprawl is one of the most common terms used to describe built environments in the United States and the world. It can be applied to urban, suburban, and exurban settings, and it's almost never a compliment.
Named after the mode of transportation that made their existence possible by dramatically reducing travel times, streetcar suburbs are communities located along streetcar lines farther out from city centers, on the periphery of the urban areas in the late 19th century.
Regional planning is most commonly practiced to address specific issues that cross local jurisdictional boundaries, like transportation or watershed protection. In other examples, regional planning offers a holistic approach to the interconnected systems and dynamics that shape physical and cultural landscapes.
Height limits are a critical component of almost every zoning code in the United States.
Often discussed in contrast with single-family zoning, multi-family housing includes buildings and complexes that house more than one household in the same property.
Part of a movement that sought to modernize cities through a rational reorganization of the urban form, "Towers in the Park" is a style of housing development that emphasizes a separation of uses and access to communal green space and amenities.
Housing subsidies can work in numerous ways, all with the common cause of easing the cost burdens of housing.
Displacement—the forced relocation of existing residents and businesses was once a desired outcome of the "urban renewal" projects of the 20th century. In the 21st century, displacement is a highly contested, hard to trace, effect commonly linked to gentrification and urban revitalization.
Known as the archetypal post-war American suburb, Levittown was the first mass-produced housing development and set a standard for planned subdivisions for decades to come.
Thought to be one of the first major urban centers in human civilization, Çatalhöyük was a Neolithic settlement that, at its height, reached a population of close to 10,000 at a time when most humans still lived in small hunter-gatherer bands of several hundred people.
Upzoning is a term used to describe changes to a zoning code made to increase the amount of development allowed in the future.
Floor Area Ratio
Floor area ratio (FAR) is a critical measurement to the field of planning. FAR defines development intensity and determines numerous other regulations and development outcomes.
Inclusionary zoning refers to a range of policies and practices that mandate or provide incentives for the inclusion of affordable housing units in new developments to encourage mixed-income neighborhoods and increase the supply of affordable housing.
Redlining is the practice of restricting investment in areas deemed high-risk by banks. The term refers to the red color used to denote undesirable areas on maps used by lending institutions to determine loan eligibility.
Market-rate housing is a term that defines the real estate market and is a direct outcome of policies and practices of planning.
Single-family zoning is by far the most common form of zoning in the United States, but it's facing increasing criticisms both for its discriminatory origins and its sprawling effects.
Density is a controversial topic, but public opinion on the opportunities and risks of density have shifted in recent decades. To many, density now has a positive connotation.
Americans With Disabilities Act
The effects of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act are visible throughout the built environment—on sidewalks, on buses, and in almost every building and public facility in the country.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Rowan University's Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability
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.