Category: History

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Urban planning plays an important role in the life of every country. This process takes place from the very beginning of the country's existence and continues to develop throughout its history. Moreover, it includes not only the city design and architectural innovations but also the whole process of town planning and arrangement of its elements. The study of urban planning provides us a lot of information about the life of the country at different times. That is why it is important to pay attention to the process of urban planning and the specialties of its development and changes.

As we have already mentioned, urban planning takes part throughout the whole life of the state. Talking about the United States, the first attempts to plan a city were made in the period of the foreigners’ settlement. Although the settlers were not Americans yet, very soon their architectural traditions adapted to the American environment. At that time, urban planning development has started. The Colonization period presented simple and primitive designs of villages and towns, which were very similar to each other. The medieval period had to search for new types of cities, as the population was increasing. As a result, we can observe the examples of fortified cities, which resemble the European models of “bastide” (Reps, 1985). In fact, European traditions had a great influence on the city buildings in America. Up to the Renaissance period, urban planning was an essential part of the city designs, but not a separate discipline. Only in the 18thcentury, we can observe the first purposeful steps towards the town building.

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The problem of urban planning was firstly discussed in the 1790s when there was a need to design the capital of the United States. The French architect Pierre L’Enfant introduced the plan for city design. It included many aspects, such as location, the arrangement of buildings, squares and green spaces, the network of roads, and many others. Moreover, L’Enfant planned the design of the White House. This happened in 1791, and the government had officially supported this plan (Ellis, 2003). Since that time, we can speak about urban planning as a separate discipline, which plays an essential part in the process of the cities’ design.

In 1811, Commissioner’s plan installed the plan for the street grid pattern in New York City. Nowadays, it is known as “the greatest grid.” The value of such a project lies in its huge scope and size. It was the first plan, which aimed at providing business, political and economic connections with other cities (Ballon, 2012). Its design is an important event in the history of urban planning in the US.

Another event worth mentioning is the building of the Croton Aqueduct. This is a great construction, which served for water supplying of the island of Manhattan. It served from 1837 to 1842 and was a real breakthrough in urban planning. It helped to improve the city’s conditions and provide clean water for its citizens. Moreover, this invention helped to decrease the number of diseases and improve general sanitary conditions (Koeppel, 2001). Moreover, the design of the Croton Aqueduct showed the high development of the US and its desire to improve the cities’ planning and live conditions.

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In 1857, the first planning of the suburbs took place. This event was connected with certain reasons. Firstly, the population has permanently increased. Moreover, the development of the industrial sphere led to the growth of the number of factories and plants. As result, people needed some more free space for living. Suburbs became the perfect variant. Therefore, architects and designers focused their attention on the planning of the outskirts. Moreover, a century later, Kenneth returned to this problem. He considered American suburbs to be a unique phenomenon. Living in the suburbs provides a feeling of home-ownership and residential status. Moreover, it includes the concept of safe conditions as people live far from their workplaces and industrial districts (Kenneth, 1985). Kenneth also emphasized the importance of the suburbs’ planning for the development of social interconnections between people. He believed that living in the suburbs promotes communication between the neighbors and the appearance of common interests. As result, society becomes strong and friendly.

In 1909, the first conference on the problem of city planning took place in Washington. This event witnessed the importance of the urban planning study for the development of the country. The conference showed a serious attitude towards town building and designing. Moreover, in the same year, the School of Landscape Architecture at Harvard offered the first lecture about urban planning. Therefore, we can conclude that, at the beginning of the 20thcentury, urban planning began to play an important part in the life of the state. This problem was of greatest importance. Its studies included different conferences and the creation of separate academic courses.

In 1923, C. Stein created the first Regional Planning Association of America. Its main aim was a creative approach toward urban planning in the US. Many young people joined the association and shared their ideas and opinions about the further development of city planning (Parsons, 1994). For example, they created the plan for the Sunnyside Gardens in New York in 1924-1928. Moreover, they published their ideas in contemporary magazines, so that everyone could learn more about urban planning and gain new experience. Nowadays, historians believe that these people managed to change the imaginations about city architecture and design.

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Accelerated rates of the cities’ buildings led to the deterioration of the ecological situation. MacKaye was the first to pay the attention of society to this problem. He wrote that urban planning should not make harm to the environment, but coordinate the human desires and natural possibilities (Anderson, 2002). Since that time, urban planning has acquired a new direction of development. Architects returned to the idea of suburb designing. In 1939, the American Institute of Planners released the film, which attracted attention to the problem of environmental pollution and the necessity to plan cities moderately and carefully.

In 1951, Stanford University created Stanford University Park, which formed the center for Silicon Valley. It was the first industrial park, owned by the university, which was a great innovation at that time. Moreover, this decade also gave us the project of Youngtown and the first Disneyland. Also, in this period, the greatest research park was established. It was a Research Triangle Park, which occupied a huge territory for high technology studies, researches, and development. At the beginning of 1960, Sun City in Arizona was created. It is considered to be a space for active and safe living.

The 1970s were the period of environmentalism. It means that during this period all urban plans and projects were slightly limited. Many activists emphasized the necessity to protect nature from the enormous buildings and constructions. This period was very fruitful in publishing. For example, McHarg suggested the ecological view on city planning and paid special attention to the arrangement of gardens and green spaces in towns (McHarg, 1995). Moreover, the National Environmental Protection Agency was established. Its main task was to attract the attention of publicity to the problem of ecological protection. Talking about new projects, the 1970s gave birth to the construction of the Seaside in Florida, considered to be a new urban center.

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The era of postmodernism in urban planning began with the sustainability movements. During this period, architects and urbanists focused their attention on the global level of projects. Hal published the book Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century, which became a standard urban planning text. The author expressed the idea of economic, political, cultural, and social issues, which towns face all around the globe. He claims that the most effective way of urban planning is to consider all aspects of e social life, not only the architectural innovations. He managed to describe the reflection of all these sides in the city’s life and investigate new ways into the cultural creativity of the towns (Hall, 2002).

In 1993, the Congress of New Urbanism started its work. It emphasized the importance of urban planning and attracted public attention to its main issues. Members of Congress believed that only with the right combination of economic, political, and social factors, it is possible to create a new urban project. Thus, we can see that at the end of the 20th century, the idea of the complicated nature of urban planning professed. New architects and designers do not connect city buildings with construction and projects only. They understand that the town designing should include many elements, which are equally essential for its existence.

In 1997, Patsy published her findings of the connection between the socio-spatial dynamics of the city and urban governance. She professes the idea of urban spatial planning (Patsy, 2005). Thus, we can conclude that at the beginning of the 21st century, the main attention is paid to the global level of urban planning.

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To sum up, the process of urban planning is an essential part of the development of every country. Right projects and urban decisions help to improve the state’s living conditions and use their free space effectively. Looking at the history of urban planning in the United States, we can observe the following facts.

  • Firstly, the country’s governance began to pay special attention to the problem of urban planning at the end of the 18th century. Before that, cities tended to develop randomly and according to people’s basic needs. Very often, they were organized ineffectively. With the development of the industrial sphere and the increase in the population, people began to think about effective city planning and building. As a result, different conferences and congresses started their work to provide the best ideas for urban planning.
  • Secondly, American architects pay great attention to the suburbs’ planning. They consider them to be the ideal living place, which, helps to establish good relations between the citizens. Living in the suburbs provides good conditions for living and communicating with the neighbors. As a result, citizens establish good relations and become able to support each other in difficult situations.
  • Thirdly, urban planning in the United States faced the problem of environmental pollution. In other words, the accelerated development of new cities led to the deterioration of the ecological conditions. It made architects and designers look for other ways of urban planning to save nature. One of the main principles of the city building is to combine human desires with environmental possibilities.

Moreover, at the end of the 20th century, urban planning in the United States faced the problem of globalization. It means that new projects of city planning include not only the constructional aspect but also pay attention to social, political, economic, and cultural issues.

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Therefore, we can conclude that urban planning in the U.S. continues to develop and expand its opportunities. Every year, it follows new opinions and fresh ideas to provide the best decisions for city designing.

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