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9 Leading Books To Advance Your Knowledge Of Urban Planning

Urban design affects the way we experience our lives outside our home. Learn more about it from the experts!

Urban planning involves a lot of… planning. Thinking ahead, towards times where city populations explode, where our older cities will need to dramatically change to cope.

It’s also a very broad subject, spanning from policy making to architecture, to engineering and psychology. Lots of subtle design changes to our cities will dramatically affect the way space is used, and these leading urban planners have written books to share their wisdom with you.

So, whether you’re an aspiring urban planner interested to learn more, or someone who wants to take notice of the way malls are laid out, this is the list for you!

#1 Local Planning by Gary Hack

Local Planning by Gary Hack
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Joe Bailey from My Trading Skills.

If you want to understand the complexities of urban planning at a local level, this is a must-read.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#2 Cities of Tomorrow by Peter Hall

Cities of Tomorrow by Peter Hall
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Joe Bailey from My Trading Skills.

This is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the discipline of urban planning from its inception, and how this history presents itself in contemporary urban planning and design.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#3 The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro

The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by David A. Ball from Ball Consulting Group, LLC.

This epic about 20th century New York City and state, its leadership, and the planning involved in building its infrastructure, is hard to put down, even at 1,336 pages. Caro, one of the world’s great biographers, describes the politics of power and how it shaped virtually every major road, bridge, tunnel, and beach that people in that region use today.

More important, it provided a warning about the dangers of vesting too much power in one person (in this case, 20th Century New York parks and highway czar Robert Moses).. I studied political science and public administration and it was required reading in multiple classes, but it was not until I worked in the public sector that I read the book page by page and really saw how instructive it is.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#4 The Image of the City by Kevin Lynch

The Image of the City by Kevin Lynch
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Baron Christopher Hanson from RedBaronUSA.

This book brilliantly examines what a city’s form actually means to the people who live there. What can architects, city planners, developers, builders do to make a city’s image more memorable to its dwellers? Kevin Lynch brilliantly organizes and explains how urban designers can become better urban planners via more careful theories of visual perception based on objective and more mindful criteria. Image of the City is one of those books unable to be left out of any urban planning library.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#5 City: Rediscovering the Center by William H. Whyte

City: Rediscovering the Center by William H. Whyte
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Dan Biederman of Biederman Redevelopment Ventures.

Without a doubt, City: Rediscovering the Center by William H Whyte, Jr. The book reveals almost all of Mr. Whyte’s wisdom on downtown streets and public spaces. He was a major influence on our plans to revive Bryant Park in New York City, and we’ve used his ideas in our projects in Dallas at Klyde Warren Park and in San Francisco at Salesforce Park. His influence is evident in many of our public spaces and parks all across the country.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#6 Reimagining Greenville by John Boyanoski

Reimagining Greenville by John Boyanoski
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Anna Rice from Complete PR.

Reimagining Greenville takes the reader inside one of the largest redevelopments of a downtown of the past quarter century. Long before, downtown Greenville ended up on practically every list of best downtowns in the country, it was a deserted urban core where few ventured after dark. This book talks about who private and public groups came together and rebuilt the downtown one block at a time using new tactics, new ideas and long-term visioning. This is a must read for any urban planner looking for real stories and real action items on how to transform their downtown.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#7 The Ghost Map by Stephen Johnson

The Ghost Map by Stephen Johnson
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Kalev Rudolph from AutoInsuranceEZ.

A chilling and fascinating read about how a cholera outbreak in London changed mapping, epidemiology, and our sewage system. This book is a pleasure to read and takes an expansive historical approach lovers of historical non-fiction, urban planning and sociology will adore. The themes are resonant and story in extremely capable hands. Johnson’s text has been called “Fascinating.” by The New York Times Book Review, “Thrilling.” by GQ, and “Vivid.” by The New Yorker. Take a trip back in time yourself and see why.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#8 Walkable City Rules by Jeff Speck

Walkable City Rules by Jeff Speck
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Kalev Rudolph from AutoInsuranceEZ.

Walkable City Rules by Jeff Speck is another fascinating inquiry into the laws and social forces that can make traversing a city on foot near impossible. This book is bursting with insight and fresh ideas. Plus, Speck places a lot of his focus outside of just urban planners with suggestions for residents on how to improve where they call home. The graphics, photos, and charts are clear and beautifully rendered. Plus, the 1010 mini-chapters makes skimming through the text to find ideas very easy and to read the book piecemeal.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#9 The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane J

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane J
Who recommended this book?
This was recommended by Kalev Rudolph from AutoInsuranceEZ.

First up is what many urban planners are calling “the American planner’s bible” at the moment. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs has kicked off a significant change in how we plan cities today in the US. Jane Jacobs writes with incredible clarity on what defines a neighborhood, makes a street safe or dangerous, and why neighborhoods stay impoverished. Beginning with the sidewalk and expands outward into her theory of the American city project: what is broken, magnificent, and ready to change.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Contributors to this article
Joe Bailey from My Trading Skills

David A. Ball from Ball Consulting Group, LLC

Baron Christopher Hanson from RedBaronUSA

Dan Biederman from Biederman Redevelopment Ventures

Anna Rice from Complete PR

Kalev Rudolph from AutoInsuranceEZ

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Written by Zak Parker

Journalist, writer, musician, professional procrastinator. I'll add more here later.

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