Charles Marohn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Charles Marohn
Marohn in 2021
Charles L. Marohn Jr.

c. 1973
Other namesChuck Marohn
EducationUrban planning at the University of Minnesota
Occupation(s)President of Strong Towns, author, civil engineer
Known forStrong Towns, stroads
Notable workStrong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity (2019), Confessions of a Recovering Engineer (2021)

Charles Marohn (born c. 1973) is an American author, land-use planner, municipal engineer, and the founder and president of Strong Towns, an organization which advocates for the development of dense towns and the restructuring of suburbia.[1][2][3][4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Charles L. Marohn Jr grew up in Baxter, Minnesota on a small farm.[6][7]

He graduated from Brainerd High School in 1991. Marohn received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota.[1] In 2000 he became a licensed professional engineer (PE) in the state of Minnesota.

He has since[when?] faced scrutiny by the state licensing board after an engineer from South Dakota reported Marohn for failing to renew his license in the mandated time frame, yet still calling himself a PE. Marohn admits to missing the license renewal deadline but acted quickly upon being made aware of the situation and addressed the oversight. Marohn viewed this action as a limitation upon his first amendment rights because of his critical statements made about the practices of traffic engineering, as well as his disapproval of civil engineers who he views as doing little to protect human life on roads.[8][needs update]

Strong Towns[edit]

Marohn giving a lecture about Strong Towns in Seattle in 2016

Marohn started Strong Towns as a blog in 2008.[6] He was frustrated with projects he was working on which he believed were actively harming the places they were supposed to help.[6][2] As he gained many readers, he realized there was a need for an organization that advocated the principles he espoused. Strong Towns became a non-profit organization to "support a model of growth that allows America’s towns to become financially strong and resilient".[9]

Marohn believes that post World War II suburban development has been a failure, due to it being inherently economically unsustainable. He posits that low-density communities do not produce the tax revenue necessary to cover either their current services or the long-term costs of maintaining and replacing their services, and that suburbs are very difficult to adapt to an efficient, dense model because they were built as fully developed places.[7]

In 2011, he coined the word "stroad," a street/road hybrid, which has become popular among urbanists and planners.[10][11] According to Marohn, stroads are the "futon" of transportation alternatives. "Where a futon is an uncomfortable couch that also serves as an uncomfortable bed, a STROAD is an auto corridor that does not move cars efficiently while simultaneously providing little in the way of value capture."[7]

In late 2015, Marohn participated in a White House conference on rural placemaking.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Marohn lives with his wife and two daughters in Brainerd, Minnesota.[12]



  • Thoughts on Building Strong Towns. Vol. 1. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2012. ISBN 9781478319276. OCLC 811562415.
  • A World Class Transportation System: Transportation Finance for a New Economy (2014)
  • Thoughts on Building Strong Towns. Vol. 2. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2016. ISBN 9781533018557. OCLC 961354092.
  • Thoughts on Building Strong Towns. Vol. 3. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2017. ISBN 9781979930130. OCLC 1056192944.
  • Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. Wiley & Sons. 2019. ISBN 9781119564812. OCLC 1129707808.
  • Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town. Wiley & Sons. 2021. ISBN 9781119699293. OCLC 1156995179.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Crisis in the Suburbs: One Man's Fight to Fix the American Dream". Time. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  2. ^ a b "Q&A: Focused on "strong and resilient" towns". Fauquier Now. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  3. ^ "A Stronger America Needs 'Strong Towns' First". The American Conservative. 27 September 2019. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  4. ^ "Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity". Manhattan Institute. 2019-10-10. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  5. ^ "'Jane Jacobs Goals Through Robert Moses Tactics'". 2020-01-19. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  6. ^ a b c Ross, Jenna (October 8, 2014). Written at Brainerd, MN. "Looking to the Past to Re-Engineer U.S. Towns". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, MN. pp. A1, A6. Retrieved June 21, 2023. Marohn is gaining attention for taking aim at national issues: car-focused development, federal transportation funding and "gluttonous" infrastructure growth.
  7. ^ a b c d Callaghan, Peter (2015-12-02). "Why a conservative Republican from northern Minnesota wants to kill the suburbs". MinnPost. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  8. ^ Britschgi, Christian (25 May 2021). "Minnesota Threatens To Fine This Engineer for Calling Himself an Engineer". Reason. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  9. ^ Communities, AARP Livable. "Strong Towns Website". AARP. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  10. ^ Sarah Goodyear (January 7, 2014). "Defining the Worst Type of Street Design". Marohn says he coined the term in 2011 to wake up the people who design America's roads. "I really was writing it as a way to push back at the engineering profession and get my fellow engineers to think about the bizarre things they're building," says Marohn. That was why he initially wrote the word in that annoying all-cap style, which he eventually dropped.
  11. ^ "What's a Stroad and Why Do Stroads Matter?". Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  12. ^ "Charles Marohn". Strong Towns. Retrieved 2021-01-16.

External links[edit]