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Urban Studies and Planning

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A Landscape History of New England takes a view of New England’s landscapes that goes beyond picture postcard-ready vistas of white-steepled churches, open pastures, and tree-covered mountains. Its chapters describe, for example, the Native American presence in the Maine Woods; offer a history of agriculture told through stone walls, woodlands, and farm buildings; report on the fragile ecology of tourist-friendly Cape Cod beaches; and reveal the ethnic stereotypes informing Colonial Revivalism. Taken together, they offer a wide-ranging history of New England’s diverse landscapes, stretching across two centuries.

The book shows that all New England landscapes are the products of human agency as well as nature. The authors trace the roles that work, recreation, historic preservation, conservation, and environmentalism have played in shaping the region, and they highlight the diversity of historical actors who have transformed both its meaning and its physical form. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines--including history, geography, environmental studies, literature, art history, and historic preservation--the book provides fresh perspectives on New England’s many landscapes: forests, mountains, farms, coasts, industrial areas, villages, towns, and cities. Generously illustrated, with many archival photographs, A Landscape History of New England offers readers a solid historical foundation for understanding the great variety of places that make up New England.

Urbanization and globalization have shaped the last hundred years. These two dominant trends are mutually reinforcing: globalization links countries through the networked communications of urban hubs. The urban population now generates more than eighty percent of global GDP. Cities account for enormous flows of energy and materials—inflows of goods and services and outflows of waste. Thus urban environmental management critically affects global sustainability. In this book, Paulo Ferrão and John Fernández offer a metabolic perspective on urban sustainability, viewing the city as a metabolism, in terms of its exchanges of matter and energy. Their book provides a roadmap to the strategies and tools needed for a scientifically based framework for analyzing and promoting the sustainability of urban systems.

Using the concept of urban metabolism as a unifying framework, Ferrão and Fernandez describe a systems-oriented approach that establishes useful linkages among environmental, economic, social, and technical infrastructure issues. These linkages lead to an integrated information-intensive platform that enables ecologically informed urban planning. After establishing the theoretical background and describing the diversity of contributing disciplines, the authors sample sustainability approaches and tools, offer an extended study of the urban metabolism of Lisbon, and outline the challenges and opportunities in approaching urban sustainability in both developed and developing countries.

A Representative History

American urban form—the spaces, places, and boundaries that define city life—has been evolving since the first settlements of colonial days. The changing patterns of houses, buildings, streets, parks, pipes and wires, wharves, railroads, highways, and airports reflect changing patterns of the social, political, and economic processes that shape the city. In this book, Sam Bass Warner and Andrew Whittemore map more than three hundred years of the American city through the evolution of urban form. They do this by offering an illustrated history of “the City”—a hypothetical city (constructed from the histories of Boston, Philadelphia, and New York) that exemplifies the American city’s transformation from village to regional metropolis.

In an engaging text accompanied by Whittemore’s detailed, meticulous drawings, they chart the City’s changes. Planning for the future of cities, they remind us, requires an understanding of the forces that shaped the city’s past.

For as long has humans have lived in communities, storytelling has bound people to each other and to their environments. In recent times, scholars have noted how social networks arise around issues of resource and ecological management. In this book, Raul Lejano, Mrill Ingram, and Helen Ingram argue that stories, or narratives, play a key role in these networks—that environmental communities “narrate themselves into existence.” The authors propose the notion of the narrative-network, and introduce innovative tools to analyze the plots, characters, and events that inform environmental action. Their analysis sheds light on how environmental networks can emerge in unlikely contexts and sustain themselves against great odds.

The authors present three case studies that demonstrate the power of narrative and narratology in the analysis of environmental networks: a conservation network in the Sonoran Desert, which achieved some success despite U.S.-Mexico border issues; a narrative that bridged differences between community and scientists in the Turtle Islands; and networks of researchers and farmers who collaborated to develop and sustain alternative agriculture practice in the face of government inaction. These cases demonstrate that by paying attention to language and storytelling, we can improve our understanding of environmental behavior and even change it in positive ways.

Greater Boston's Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth

Boston’s metropolitan landscape has been two hundred years in the making. From its proto-suburban village centers of 1800 to its far-flung, automobile-centric exurbs of today, Boston has been a national pacesetter for suburbanization. In The Hub’s Metropolis, James O’Connell charts the evolution of Boston’s suburban development.

The city of Boston is compact and consolidated—famously, “the Hub.” Greater Boston, however, stretches over 1,736 square miles and ranks as the world’s sixth largest metropolitan area. Boston suburbs began to develop after 1820, when wealthy city dwellers built country estates that were just a short carriage ride away from their homes in the city. Then, as transportation became more efficient and affordable, the map of the suburbs expanded. The Metropolitan Park Commission’s park-and-parkway system, developed in the 1890s, created a template for suburbanization that represents the country’s first example of regional planning.

O’Connell identifies nine layers of Boston’s suburban development, each of which has left its imprint on the landscape: traditional villages; country retreats; railroad suburbs; streetcar suburbs (the first electric streetcar boulevard, Beacon Street in Brookline, was designed by Frederic Law Olmsted); parkway suburbs, which emphasized public greenspace but also encouraged commuting by automobile; mill towns, with housing for workers; upscale and middle-class suburbs accessible by outer-belt highways like Route 128; exurban, McMansion-dotted sprawl; and smart growth. Still a pacesetter, Greater Boston has pioneered antisprawl initiatives that encourage compact, mixed-use development in existing neighborhoods near railroad and transit stations.

O’Connell reminds us that these nine layers of suburban infrastructure are still woven into the fabric of the metropolis. Each chapter suggests sites to visit, from Waltham country estates to Cambridge triple-deckers.

Countering Commonsense Antiurbanism

Conventional wisdom about the environmental impact of cities holds that urbanization and environmental quality are necessarily at odds. Cities are seen to be sites of ecological disruption, consuming a disproportionate share of natural resources, producing high levels of pollution, and concentrating harmful emissions precisely where the population is most concentrated. Cities appear to be particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, to be inherently at risk from outbreaks of infectious diseases, and even to offer dysfunctional and unnatural settings for human life. In this book, William Meyer tests these widely held beliefs against the evidence.

Borrowing some useful terminology from the public health literature, Meyer weighs instances of “urban penalty” against those of “urban advantage.” He finds that many supposed urban environmental penalties are illusory, based on commonsense preconceptions and not on solid evidence. In fact, greater degrees of “urbanness” often offer advantages rather than penalties. The characteristic compactness of cities, for example, lessens the pressure on ecological systems and enables resource consumption to be more efficient. On the whole, Meyer reports, cities offer greater safety from environmental hazards (geophysical, technological, and biological) than more dispersed settlement does. In fact, the city-defining characteristics widely supposed to result in environmental penalties do much to account for cities’ environmental advantages.

As of 2008 (according to U.N. statistics), more people live in cities than in rural areas. Meyer’s analysis clarifies the effects of such a profound shift, covering a full range of environmental issues in urban settings.

Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities

Today most major cities have undertaken some form of sustainability initiative. Yet there have been few systematic comparisons across cities, or theoretically grounded considerations of what works and what does not, and why. In Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously, Kent Portney addresses this gap, offering a comprehensive overview and analysis of sustainability programs and policies in American cities. After discussing the conceptual underpinnings of sustainability, he examines the local aspects of sustainability; considers the measurement of sustainability and offers an index of “serious” sustainability for the fifty-five largest cities in the country; examines the relationship between sustainability and economic growth; and discusses issues of governance, equity, and implementation. He also offers extensive case studies, with separate chapters on large, medium-size, and small cities, and provides an empirically grounded analysis of why some large cities are more ambitious than others in their sustainability efforts.

This second edition has been updated throughout, with new material that draws on the latest research. It also offers numerous additional case studies, a new chapter on management and implementation issues, and a greatly expanded comparative analysis of big-city sustainability initiatives.

Portney shows how cities use the broad rubric of sustainability to achieve particular political ends, and he dispels the notion that only cities that are politically liberal are interested in sustainability. Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously draws a roadmap for effective sustainability initiatives.

The Co-Production of Science, Politics, and Urban Nature

Although nature conservation has traditionally focused on the countryside, issues of biodiversity protection also appear on the political agendas of many cities. One of the emblematic examples of this now worldwide trend has been the German city of Berlin, where, since the 1970s, urban planning has been complemented by a systematic policy of “biotope protection”—at first only in the walled city island of West Berlin, but subsequently across the whole of the reunified capital. In Greening Berlin, Jens Lachmund uses the example of Berlin to examine the scientific and political dynamics that produced this change.

After describing a tradition of urban greening in Berlin that began in the late nineteenth century, Lachmund details the practices of urban ecology and nature preservation that emerged in West Berlin after World War II and have continued in post-unification Berlin. He tells how ecologists and naturalists created an ecological understanding of urban space on which later nature-conservation policy was based. Lachmund argues that scientific change in ecology and the new politics of nature mutually shaped or “co-produced” each other under locally specific conditions in Berlin. He shows how the practices of ecologists coalesced with administrative practices to form an institutionally embedded and politically consequential “nature regime.”

Lachmund’s study sheds light not only on the changing place of nature in the modern city but also on the political use of science in environmental conflicts, showing the mutual formation of science, politics, and nature in an urban context.

Bicycling in cities is booming, for many reasons: health and environmental benefits, time and cost savings, more and better bike lanes and paths, innovative bike sharing programs, and the sheer fun of riding. City Cycling offers a guide to this urban cycling renaissance, with the goal of promoting cycling as sustainable urban transportation available to everyone. It reports on cycling trends and policies in cities in North America, Europe, and Australia, and offers information on such topics as cycling safety, cycling infrastructure provisions including bikeways and bike parking, the wide range of bike designs and bike equipment, integration of cycling with public transportation, and promoting cycling for women and children.

City Cycling emphasizes that bicycling should not be limited to those who are highly trained, extremely fit, and daring enough to battle traffic on busy roads. The chapters describe ways to make city cycling feasible, convenient, and safe for commutes to work and school, shopping trips, visits, and other daily transportation needs. The book also offers detailed examinations and illustrations of cycling conditions in different urban environments: small cities (including Davis, California, and Delft, the Netherlands), large cities (including Sydney, Chicago, Toronto and Berlin), and “megacities” (London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo). These chapters offer a closer look at how cities both with and without historical cycling cultures have developed cycling programs over time. The book makes clear that successful promotion of city cycling depends on coordinating infrastructure, programs, and government policies.

Can a celebrity chef find common ground with an urban community organizer? Can a maker of organic cheese and a farm worker share an agenda for improving America’s food? In the San Francisco Bay area, unexpected alliances signal the widening concerns of diverse alternative food proponents. What began as niche preoccupations with parks, the environment, food aesthetics, and taste has become a broader and more integrated effort to achieve food democracy: agricultural sustainability, access for all to good food, fairness for workers and producers, and public health. This book maps that evolution in northern California.

The authors show that progress toward food democracy in the Bay area has been significant: innovators have built on familiar yet quite radical understandings of regional cuisine to generate new, broadly shared expectations about food quality, and activists have targeted the problems that the conventional food system creates. But, they caution despite the Bay Area’s favorable climate, progressive politics, and food culture many challenges remain.

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