Yes, Virginia, There Is A City Planner

Sometimes, the road more traveled by makes all the difference.

It’s not news that there is significant buzz around planning circles around Transit Oriented Development, housing close to town, and more welcoming streetscapes. But do we know how the suburban mentality that so many Americans have embraced for 50 years change in the generations to come?

We’ve discussed here on Rooflines the community benefits of “urban-style” townhouses (even if they are built away from a so-called urban-style center), but by teaching the benefits of urban development early, and often, perhaps we can instill a sense of walking, mixed-use development, smaller houses (less energy used), and an existence independent of the automobile in future generations.

The editors of Planetizen, a public-interest information exchange for the urban planning, design, and development community released Where Things Are, From Near to Far: A Children’s Book About Planning, that aims to teach young children how a city is planned, how the different pieces of a city come together, and how buildings “have their place.”

Certainly I’d like to see a book about how that building on the highway where trees used to be got there, but that’s a different kids book for a different day, for sure. Further, we can only be hopeful that future generations will move away from that type of development.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


  1. Hmmm, that line “In the city neighborhoods, the buildings aren’t as high” might not sound right to some of the high-rise loving planners near where I work!!


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