The Evolution of Urban Planning


Guest Post submitted by Konstantin von der Schulenburg

Konstantin von der Schulenburg is an architect who writes about issues relating to his industry. The infographic presented below has already been posted to several engineering, construction, and public interest websites. It’s a provocative graphic for the planning ideas it chooses to include (and exclude!), the urban architects and planners it quotes, and its framing of planning history as an “Evolution.”  Let us know what you think in the comments box below!


Over the last few centuries urban planning has evolved radically. The building of cities and towns has a complex and multifaceted history. Although urban planning has only been recognized as a distinct profession for less than a century, cities worldwide reflect the different elements of conscious design in everything from their layout to their functionality. In early times, cities provided a safe haven from outside forces and have been always been the center of government. With the introduction of modern aerial warfare, cities have become key targets for destruction rather than safe zones.

Consequently, over time the needs of cities changed. Architects have created some of the most influential urban designs in history to meet the needs of citizens. The infographic below reflects these changes from Giambattista Nolli’s ‘’Nolli Map’’ to Le Corbusier’s ‘’Radiant City.’’  Each of these plans has changed how we live, with each step in this urban revolution having had a significant impact on their societies and all over the world.




  1. Kenneth Fox April 17, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    What about “equity planning” out of Cleveland?

  2. Michael April 19, 2016 at 7:49 am

    The graphics are nice. The ideas are well-known to urban planners.
    What I notice here is the architect lobby. Keep in mind that not all urban planners are architects and vice versa – most architects have no idea about urban planning. You should check the profiles of people you mention. Eg. Howard was not an architect.

    • Alec May 4, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Yes – these are not all architects. Planners and landscape architects have done more to shape our cities than architects.

  3. Ken Fox May 5, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Just a word about Gottman and Megalopolis. Gottman wasn’t saying BosNyWash as it came to be called had been planned. His message was that it was becoming one region and planners should begin to plan for it as one region. Apart from Amtrak creating a “high-speed” rail service, little esle has happened. Even the recent plan for a much needed additional rail tunnel under the Hudson got nixed by Governor Christie. More importantly though, the idea that it is a single region has come to be considered questionable because its popluation growth since 1960 has been much slower than growth in other conurbations. Whether growth has been slow because it is not truly one region has yet to be argued. Meanwhile around the world similar “mega” regions have also been questionable as opposed to just super-sized single-centered entities such as Mexico City. My friends in Sao Paulo, where I have not been, say it has grown so large that it is bigger than the entire state of Connecticut, about 70 x 50 miles. Planning for centers that size is very problematic. In the 60s and 70s the British planners were concerned that Greater London was getting too big and that growth should somehow be diverted to other centers such as Manchester. I think this proved to be impossible as discussion of it has pretty much died down. Whether speeded up growth should by the measure of whether a style of plan is “successful”, as it has been in the past, is a question that deserves more discussion.

  4. Gregory Willard August 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

    It’s interesting that urban planning has actually evolved radically over the centuries. I have always loved the information about planning cities. It is interesting that it has only been recognized as a distinct profession for less than a century.

  5. Nectarios Pittos February 2, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    The urban planning activity is very old. The profession is less than a century old because it coincided with the rise in power and stature of centralized governance. Prior to centralized governance, urban planning was a civic and cultural activity.

  6. Tomer Chelouche January 21, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Very interesting

  7. Linda Weber January 26, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Kevin Lynch wasn’t an architect either!

  8. Sadiq Ramazan Younes April 23, 2020 at 8:04 am

    You could provide more background information in this post. But, the graphic is outstanding that gives a chronological overview of the evolution of urban planning. This could become a good literature review, though. Thanks for sharing this piece of knowledge


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