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Steve Patterson’s Favorite Urban Books

March 25, 2005 Books 1 Comment

The following are some of my favorite books on urban issues. They are presented alphabetically by Author.

– Steve

Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities
Author: Timothy Beatley

Great ideas that we need to take into consideration

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built
Author: Stewart Brand

A great look at how buildings change over the years

Cash, Tokens, and Transfers: A History of Urban Mass Transit in North America
Author: Brian J. Cudahy

A must read book on mass transit

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
Authors: Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck

A great look at sprawl and what can be done about it

The Rise of the Creative Class and how it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life
Author: Richard Florida.

Controversial book looks at changes in classes and how new social classes are changing cities

The Living City: How Urban Residents are Revitalizing America’s Neighborhoods and Downtown Shopping Districts by Thinking Small in a Big Way
Author: Roberta Brandes Gratz

Inspiring book about the importance of the little guy and doing a building at a time

The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Author: Jane Jacobs

A classic. If only planners had paid attention to her 40 years ago

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape
Author: James Howard Kunstler

Kunstler’s first work on cities. A must read.

City Comforts
Author: David Sucher

Packed with those little “comforts” that make a city great.

City: Rediscovering the Center
Author: William H. Whyte

Whyte’s research into uses of public spaces is legendary.


Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. _How Buildings Learn_ changed my life. The first time I read it was when I was 14, and I was just blown away.

    Let me suggest a few other titles:

    _Crossing the Expendable Landscape_ by Bettina Drew: A slightly more theoretically-oriented but short take on Kunstler’s ideas.

    _The New American Ghetto_ by Camilo Jose Vergara: Beautiful images of decay with incisive commentary — published about ten years ago. Anything else by Vergara is worth reading, too.

    _Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization_ edited by Joseph Heathcott & Jefferson Cowie: An excellent collection of essays on the transitions in many somewhat-marginal cities like Camden, Gary and Newark. (Heathcott teaches at SLU and is very active in urban issues in St. Louis.)

    _The Pig and the Skyscraper_ by Marco D’Eramo: One of the best biographies of a city — Chicago — that I have ever read, this book demonstrates a method of urban history that could be employed in writing about other cities.

    _The Situationist Reader_: Those weird old French avant-garde Marxists were obsessed with urbanism and making cities over as playful, fluid, dense places. Some of the theoretical basis for Ecology of Absence was born during my reading of the Situationists’ writings.


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