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City Planning and Marginalization   Tags: urban studies  

This unit is meant to introduce students to some of the theories and strategies of planning and developing a city as well as some of the ways in which this relates to marginalization of certain groups
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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theory and practice of planning and building cities

1. brief description: In this section of the unit, students will engage with readings, participate in discussions, and submit written responses exploring the major theories of urban planning from the last few centuries as well as where the planning of Philadelphia fits in.

   a. First, students may read ”What is...Planning?” from the American Planning Association ( as a homework assignment. The following class may include a discussion starting with the question, “How do cities come to be?” and “What is the role of planning in cities?”. Other questions may include, “Who is involved in planning?”, “What are the goals of planning?”, and “What are some examples of aspects of cities that are planned?”.

   b. For the next assignment students may read a brief introduction to the history and visions of urban planning from the last few centuries in The City Reader (LeGates, Richard T. , and Frederic Stout. The City Reader. 3rd ed . New York : Routledge, 2003. 299-301. Print.). The students and instructor may reflect on these theories briefly in a class discussion. Then students may break into even groups and each group may research and present to the class on on one of the main urban planning theorists discussed in the reading. These theorists would be Frederick Law Olmstead, Ebenezer Howard, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arturo Soria y Mata, and Peter Calthorpe. Students reports should include a description of the theory for which their person is known, a description of the time and place the person is from, the students' own opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of the person's vision for cities, and some sort of visual aid. Students should think about the question-Does this plan seem to fulfill the purposes of city planning held by the APA?

   c. Students may then learn a little about the planning of their very own Philadelphia! To begin learning about the planning of Philadelphia students should read the following pieces and answer the following questions in written form to be submitted to the instructor.

      i. American Society of Civil Engineers-City Plan of Philadelphia


            >What “firsts” in city planning does Philadelphia exemplify?

            >What were other key features of the plan?

            >What role did William Penn play in the planning of Philadelphia? >Compare and contrast Philadelphia's early plans to the plans of one of the urban theorists discussed in the last class.

      ii. Spoof article on Philadelphia city planning from The Onion:,35611/?ref=auto

            >What does this article imply about Philadelphia?

   d. An additional component of this section of the unit could be a field trip to Old City to explore the some of the areas which exemplify Penn's planning. A tour guide with a knowledge of the history of the area would be invaluable.



1. brief description: In this section students will be introduced to another issue in urban communities: gentrification. Students will engage with a variety of sources to build their understandings of the causes and effects of gentrification. Students will also be asked to synthesize the ideas of the unit in a project in which they research and think critically about a current, local development project.

a. Students should read the following articles concerning gentrification and have a class discussion starting with the question, “What is gentrification?” and “What are the problems and benefits of it?”. Other questions may include, “Why does gentrification happen?” and “Do you see gentrification going on in the places you live?”

>What is gentrification? (Grant, PBS, WHYY)

>Spike Lee on gentrification (Coscarelli, New York Magazine): against-gentrification.html

b. Students should watch the following video clip and read the following article concerning development in Philadelphia and how it has displaced people in the past and today. Students should engage in a class discussion comparing and contrasting the two resources (below) and discussing their own experience of new development-good or bad.

>urban renewal and gentrification in Philadelphia Ed Bacon:

>> media.html%3Fv%3D1160

>>Today (Shadid, Newsworks): easy/item/69367-selling-gentrification-to-neighbors-of-the-old- west-philadelphia-high-school-building&linktype=msf_share


Jacobs and Moses: Strategies and Priorities for Cities

1. brief description: In this section of the unit, students will engage with readings, participate in discussions, and submit written responses to explore some different problems within in cities and priorities and strategies for addressing these problems through the examples of Jane Jacobs's and Robert Moses's views on New York City in the mid to late 1900s, as well as Toni Griffin's views on Detroit today.

a. Students may read Edward Glaeser's article "What a City Needs" in which Glaeser presents the conflict between two of the most prominent figures in urban studies and planning from the last century-Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. In his article Glaeser discusses their priorities and strategies. Students should read the article and engage in a class discussion using the following questions. (

i. What are some of the types of projects that Moses lead?

ii. What were some of the sources of funding that Moses used?

iii.What were the "three epochs in postwar public building"?

iv. Describe three of the battles between Jacobs's and Moses. What were these fights about? What strategies did Jacobs use to oppose Moses?

v. What are some of the benefits that Moses's projects brough to New York?

vi. What does Glaeser say is "Jacobs's greatest insight"? Do you agree with this insight?

b. Next students may read Moses's piece, "Slums and City Planning." Students should answer the following questions in written form and submit them to the instructor.( planning/306544/)

i. Please describe at least two factors that Moses offers as causes of the growth of slums and "central decay" of the city.

ii. What are some of the opposing planning views that Moses discusses on how to improve cities on pg. 3?

iii. What argument does Moses make in favor of public projects such as parks and expressways on pg. 3?

iv. What are Moses's feelings about public housing? How does he think it should be funded? What barriers to the funding and creation of public housing does Moses present?

v. What reasons does Moses give for using rehabilitation as a strategy to address substandard living conditions?

vi. What actions does Moses believe will lead to more slums if not prevented? What methods of prevention of these actions does he seem to support?

vii. Describe what Moses might mean by "slums." Describe what he means by "slum clearance."

viii. What are the four main types of actions that Moses presents as ways to address the problem of slums?

ix. Please comment on whether you think any of Moses's ideas still have relevance today. Do you think any are outdated?

c. Students shall read an excerpt from Jacobs's book The Death and Life of Great American Cities in which she also discusses her views on slums and takes a closer look at the people who live there (chapter 15: "Unslumming and slumming", pg. 270-90). Students should read the excerpt and answer the following questions in written form and submit them to the instructor.

i. What does Jacobs point out as a major problem in conventional planning approaches to slums?

ii. What link does Jacobs say can be broken to make a slum unslum

iii. What is the definition of a "slum" that Jacobs includes on pg. 272?

iv. What three things does Jacobs say happen when enough people stay in a slum by choice (pg 281)? Briefly describe the meaning of each.

v. Who does Jacobs say tends to leave the slum at the beginning of the process of unslumming?

vi. How does diversification impact commercial enterprises?

vii. What does Jacobs mean by "impracticality"? How does this impact an unslumming slum?

viii. Why does Jacobs belive planners, architects, and government officials would destroy an unslumming slum?

xi. What is Jacobs's criticism of Ebenezer Howard's city planning theories?

xii. Please comment on whether you think any of Jacobs's ideas still have relevance today. Do you think any are outdated?

xii. In both Moses's "Slums and the City" and in the excerpt from Jacobs these two writers discuss slums, but the pieces are very different. Compare and contrast Moses's and Jacobs's ideas for how the problem of slums can be ameliorated.

d. Students should then watch the following video and have a class discussion addressing the following questions:

>rebuilding Detroit:

i. What were some of the challenges facing Detroit by 2010?

ii. What project did Toni Griffin join?

Iii. What question did Griffin hear at community meetings that struck her?

iv. What is the first migration that Griffin discusses?

v. What is the second migration?

vi. What problems has this second migration caused?

vii. What are solution is offered to deal with these problems?

viii. What is the third migration Griffin describes? What impact has this had on Detroit?

ix. Please list some of the initiatives of Detroit Future City that Griffin outlined.

x. Compare and contrast the problems and solutions that Griffin discusses with the problems and solutions that Moses and Jacobs address.

e. In order to explore the idea of the spacialization and racialization of poverty that Toni Griffin touches on in her speech, students can read the following article and explore the following interactive maps on the topic of race, space, and poverty in Philadelphia. Students should take notes on what they notice from these maps. All of these maps allow the viewer to type in the address of interest and change around what is marked on the map (e.g. income). This could be either a class or home assignment. A follow up discussion in class on these topics might be useful either way.

>Duchneskie, John . "Poverty in Pa,'s First Congressional District. (see materials)




planning for equity

 1. brief description: In prior sections students explored some of the problems within cities and ways to address them. This section will explore city planning for equity from a broader perspective: equity planning. Students will explore these ideas through readings and discussions.

a. Students should read the following pieces and answer the following questions in written form to be submitted to the instructor. A following class discussion could also focus on these topics.

i. Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning (Davidoff, City Reader p. 388) (just intro)

> Describe the strategy for planning that Davidoff advocates for.

> What are the possible benefits of this strategy?

> According to the writers of this introduction, how is planning typically done?

ii. A Retrospective View of Equity Planning- Norman Krumholz (discussion questions in PLACE (pg 56), link to article

> What is Krumholtz's job?

> What is the “overriding goal” of Krumholtz's group?

> What aspects of development does Krumholtz believe exacerbated issues of poverty and inequity in Cleveland?

> What aspects of local politics does he believe did so?

> Please give an example of a time Krumholtz describes working with another government official or a non-government organization. What do you notice about the relationship between city planners and other parts of the government or other organizations in Krumholtz's example?

> Krumholtz describes three major battles that he and the planning commission engaged in. Please describe one, making sure to note Krumholtz's goals, strategies, and the outcome of the conflict.

> Please describe the “perfect textbook model of effective planning practice” described by Krumholtz on pg 170.

> Which of Krumholtz's ideas are still relevant today? (from PLACE)

> Do you think that choice and opportunity are enough to generate more equitable outcomes? Why/why not? (from PLACE) 


final project

1. brief description: For this final project students will be assigned to explore websites on city planning and general news in Philadelphia to find a development project. They will create a report on the project, describing the project itself, describing the history of the site, and commenting on the benefits and draw backs of the project. Students' commentary on the project should include at least two of the following: discussion of the community response to the plan; discussion of what Jane Jacobs, Robert Moses, Toni Griffin, or Norman Krumholtz might think of the plan; and discussion of whether gentrification may be an issue. The report should also include a visual component. Some possible resources are listed below:





c. From Amy Cohen's Mastery School class:


other possible themes

1. housing justice

a. Using the resources (below) the students and instructor could look more deeply at the issue of housing affordability, connect this issue to gentrification, and explore some ways to address the issue of housing affordability.

i. Make Your PLACE Curriculum-pg28-A Closer Look:Housing Justice

ii. Unsheltered Lives: content/uploads/2012/12/Unsheltered-Lives-2010.pdf

>>pg7-Who is Homeless

>>pg10-Causes of Homelessness in Vermont,

>>pg39-Budgeting for a Low-Income Household (including "Tough Choices" (pg 40), including article on living on minimum wage from TIME (Unsheltered pg 42)

>>pg45-Housing Survey


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