Urban planning in the United States

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Urban planning in the United States is practice of urban planning as it relates specifically to localities and urban centers in the United States.


Early history[edit]

In 1682, William Penn founded Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, planning it as a city to serve as a port on the Delaware River and as a place for government. Hoping that Philadelphia would become more like an English rural town instead of a city, Penn laid out roads on a grid plan to keep houses and businesses spread far apart, with areas for gardens and orchards. The city's inhabitants did not follow Penn's plans, as they crowded by the Delaware River, the port, and subdivided and resold their lots.[1] Before Penn left Philadelphia for the last time, he issued the Charter of 1701 establishing it as a city. It became an important trading center, poor at first, but with tolerable living conditions by the 1750s. Benjamin Franklin, a leading citizen, helped improve city services and founded new ones, such as fire protection, a library, and one of the American colonies' first hospitals.

President George Washington appointed Pierre L'Enfant in 1791 to design the new capital city (later named the City of Washington) under the supervision of three Commissioners, whom Washington had appointed to oversee the planning and development of the federal territory that would later become the District of Columbia.[2] Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside President Washington in overseeing the plans for the capital, sent L'Enfant a letter outlining his task, which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson had modest ideas for the Capital, L'Enfant saw the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also devising the city plan and designing the buildings.[3]


  1. ^ Philadelphia: A 300-Year History, pages 7, 14 – 16
  2. ^ Leach, Sara Amy; Barthold, Elizabeth (1994-07-20). "L'Enfant Plan of the City of Washington, District of Columbia". National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. United States Department of the Interior: National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  3. ^ Seale, William (1986). The President's House, Volume 1. White House Historical Association. pp. 1–4. 

See also[edit]

Overviews and related topics[edit]

Specific cities, towns, and urban centers[edit]