Category: Book Reviews

Review: Sadik-Khan’s Streetfight

Cities are complex, so they can be easily seen in different ways. The same urban block can be viewed as blighted, sustainable, congested, or a historic asset—all depending on who you ask. The fundamental importance seeing means that at the heart of graduate programs in urban planning are courses in observation—sometimes called “research methods”—the survey, the […]

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Review: Ehrenhalt’s The Great Inversion

In the acknowledgements section at the end of his book, The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, author Alan Ehrenhalt demurred he is “no Jane Jacobs” but says he followed her advice for researching cities, namely to study them through close personal observation using a minimum of preconceptions. The results of this […]

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Book Review: Rybczynski’s Last Harvest

Witold Rybczynski’s 2007 book Last Harvest: From Cornfield to New Town is truly a unique book: an accessible, detailed narrative of the process of real estate development. The book describes the construction of a subdivision named New Daleville in southern Chester County in suburban Philadelphia. Or exurban, rather, since the development is over 45 miles […]

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Review: A Better Way to Zone

I have mixed feelings about zoning, which may explain my thoughts about Donald Elliott’s new book about it, A Better Way to Zone. A land use law consultant in Colorado, Elliott’s book is dedicated to making “simplicity and understandability not just an aspiration but a guiding principle in zoning.” While I agree with much of […]

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Review: Leinberger’s The Option of Urbanism

BallstonThe newest buzzword among urban scholars just might be Christopher Leinberger’s “walkable urbanism,” which he contrasts with our country’s postwar “drivable sub-urban” pattern of development. In this post I review the University of Michigan professor’s latest book The Option of Urbanism and find a refreshing, if optimistic analysis of our recent urban history. Find out what I think sets this book apart from its competition, and why Leinberger thinks reforming Wall Street’s Real Estate Investment Trusts may be the key to cultivating genuine urbanism in American again.

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Review: Richard Sennett’s The Uses of Disorder

Richard Sennett’s The Uses of Disorder is one of those books I had heard obliquely mentioned so many times I decided, finally, to read it. Published in 1970, it has aged curiously. Labeled “sociology” by the publisher, the books’ oddly diverse jacket endorsements suggests the stew of ideas contained — the front cover claims it […]

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