Each month, Island Press discounts one of its e-books wherever e-books are sold. Bookmark this page and check back each month for the latest e-book deal. Now available:
"If we want to create the places of our dreams, we need to observe our cities more clearly. Seeing the Better City is both a thoughtful guide and an enticement to take up this challenge."
—Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City
"We experience cities through what we see. Not since the legendary Kevin Lynch has an author opened our eyes to the power of observing urban space. This book masterfully illustrates how to understand and capture moments in time, see present-day patterns and layers of history, and gain visual insights into the urban space that shapes our daily lives. Chuck's images and words will truly inspire you."
—Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks Commissioner and former president of the American Planning Association
In order to understand and improve cities today, personal observation remains as important as ever. While big data, digital mapping, and simulated cityscapes are valuable tools for understanding urban space, using them without on-the-ground, human impressions risks creating places that do not reflect authentic local context. Seeing the Better City brings our attention back to the real world right in front of us, focusing it once more on the sights, sounds, and experiences of place in order to craft policies, plans, and regulations to shape better urban environments.
Through clear prose and vibrant photographs, Charles Wolfe shows how to catalog the influences of urban form, public transportation, and other basic city elements. He then shares insights into how to use recorded observations to contribute to better planning and design decisions. Wolfe calls this the “urban diary” approach, and highlights how the perspective of the observer is key to understanding the dynamics of urban space. He concludes by offering guidance on how to use carefully recorded and organized observations as a tool to create change in urban planning conversations and practice.
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