Happy City

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Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
Happy City Charles Montgomery Hardcover.jpg
North American hardcover edition (2013)
AuthorCharles Montgomery
CountryUnited States, Canada, UK
GenreUrban planning, Nonfiction
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux, Random House, Penguin Books
Publication date
Media typePrint & Digital
Pages359 pp (first edition)

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design is a 2013 book written by the Canadian author Charles Montgomery. Gathering insights from the disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, urban planning and Montgomery’s own social experiments, the book makes the case that the manner in which we build our cities alters the way in which we feel, think, and behave as individuals and as a society. Montgomery argues that the happy city, the green city, and the low-carbon city are the same place, and we can all help build it.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Montgomery states that the book is about "seeing our city streets, hearts, and mobility systems as emotional infrastructure that can make or break the health or happiness of our citizens."[8] From Stockton, California to Bogotá, Colombia, Montgomery discusses the urban challenges cities face and the innovative solutions being implemented all over the world to empower communities.

The book was a Finalist for the Shaughnessy Bishop-Cohen Prize for Political Writing and Charles Taylor Prize for Non-fiction, and a Winner of the Robert Bruss Real Estate Book Awards.[9] It was also a shortlisted nominee for the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.[10]


The book contains 13 chapters and an epilogue:

  1. The Mayor of Happy
  2. The City has Always Been a Happiness Project
  3. The (Broken) Social Scene
  4. How We Got Here
  5. Getting it Wrong
  6. How to be Closer
  7. Convivialities
  8. Mobilicities I: How Moving Feels, and Why It Does Not Feel Better
  9. Mobilicities II: Freedom
  10. Who Is The City For?
  11. Everything Is Connected to Everything Else
  12. Retrofitting Sprawl
  13. Save Your City, Save Yourself

Chapter 1. The Mayor of Happy

The major, Enrique Penalosa, takes a stroll through his city and encounters many of his constituents with whom he shares intriguing conversation regarding the city itself. The overall consensus of the conversation is that if our needs are met, we can all live happy lives, but if the urban design fabric of city conflicts with our needs, it can impede on our happiness.[11]


  1. ^ Moore, Rowan. "Happy City by Charles Montgomery – review". theguardian.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  2. ^ EHRENHALT, Alan. "Greener Pastures Charles Montgomery's 'Happy City'". nytimes.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design". us.macmillan.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  4. ^ Grescoe, Taras. "Book Review: Happy City, by Charles Montgomery". arts.nationalpost.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Book Review: Charles Montgomery's "Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design"". livablecities.org. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  6. ^ Galloway, Gloria. "Charles Montgomery: How to make cities that make people happy". theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ Schumacher, Mary Louise. "Book looks at cities' roles in happiness". jsonline.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Streets Blog Denver". October 7, 2016.
  9. ^ "Happy City: The book".
  10. ^ "Hilary Weston Prize 2014: The shortlist revealed!". CBC Books, September 17, 2014.
  11. ^ Montgomery, Charles (2013). Happy City Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Desin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 3–16. ISBN 978-0-374-53488-2.

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