Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities

Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities

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Michael Southworth and Eran Ben-Joseph

208 pages pages | 7.75 X 9.5

The topic of streets and street design is of compelling interest today as public officials, developers, and community activists seek to reshape urban patterns to achieve more sustainable forms of growth and development. Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities traces ideas about street design and layout back to the early industrial era in London suburbs and then on through their institutionalization in housing and transportation planning in the United States. It critiques the situation we are in and suggests some ways out that are less rigidly controlled, more flexible, and responsive to local conditions.

Originally published in 1997, this edition includes a new introduction that addresses topics of current interest including revised standards from the Institute of Transportation Engineers; changes in city plans and development standards following New Urbanist, Smart Growth, and sustainability principles; traffic calming; and ecologically oriented street design.


Introduction: Street Standards and the Built Environment

-The Power of Street Standards

-The Social and Environmental Impacts of Street Standards

-Trends in Street Design and Regulation

-About This Book


Chapter 1. Gritty Cities and Picturesque Villages

-The Origins of Suburban Design Standards in England and the United States

-A Brief Look at Street Design Standards of Antiquity

-The First Suburbs in England

-John Nash and Park Village

-Olmsted, Vaux, and the American Suburb


Chapter 2. Orderly Streets for Healthy Cities Social Response to Urban Disorder

-The "Bye-law" Street

-Bedford Park Adapts the Bye-law Street

-Unwin, Parker, and the Garden Cities

-Charles Mulford Robinson and the Street as a Work of Art


Chapter 3. Streets for the Motor Age 

-The Car and the Urban Scene

-Movements for Road and Street Improvement

-The Car in the Early 1900s

-Early Responses to the Automobile

-The Rise of Comprehensive Planning

-Stein, Wright, and Radburn

-Perry, Adams, and the Neighborhood Unit

-European Modernism and the Vision for New Streets

-The Asphalt Path

-The Institute of Transportation Engineers Is Born


Chapter 4. Bureaucracy Takes Control

-The Institutionalization of Standards

-The President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership

-Adoption of Neighborhood Unit and Garden City Principles

-Street Regulations Take Root

-The Federal Housing Administration Promotes Suburbanization

-FHA's First Standards

-Standards Establish the Cul-de-sac Pattern

-Controlling Subdivision through Local Plat Approval

-The Influence of the Building Industry on Street Design

-Accidents and Grids


Chapter 5. Streets for Living

-Rethinking Neighborhood Streets

-Learning from Traditional Street Patterns


-Laguna West

-Elmwood: A Traditional Streetcar Suburb

-Neotraditional Street Design and Pattern

-Comparing Street Patterns

-Pedestrian Access

-The Shared Street Concept

-Design Characteristics of Shared Streets

-The Social Benefits


-Prospects for Shared Streets in Suburbia

-The Case for Cul-de-sacs

-Walkable Suburbs?


Chapter 6. Tomorrow's Streets

-Toward New Neighborhood Street Standards

-Liability Concerns in Reevaluating Standards

-Local Controls and Design Initiatives

-Semiprivate Streets for Flexibility

-Performance Standards Versus Specifications

-The Limitations of Flexible Planning

-Some Design Criteria for Better Residential Street Standards

-Looking at Community Street Standards

-The Work Ahead


Appendix A. Chronology of Events in the Development of Residential Street Standards

Appendix B. A Graphic Survey of Street Cross Sections

Appendix C. Narrow Streets Data

Chapter End Notes

Other References


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208 pages pages | 7.75 X 9.5
publication year: 
2 003