A Brief History of Urbanism in North America: Introduction

Phoenix' Historic Orpheum Theater with it's modern City Hall in the background. Photo credit: lumierefl on Flickr

It’s time for another series! While writing my ABC’s of Urbanism series, I enjoyed the routine of writing regular posts within a given framework that still left me the opportunity to investigate new ideas along the way. I also loved the fact that by the end, I had created enough original material for to collate into a publication.

Over the holidays, I was brainstorming ideas for a new series that would give me a similar flexible routine. After throwing a few ideas back and forth with @urbanverse (Cindy Frewen Wuellner), we came up with the idea of looking at the history of cities; or at least the major milestones to led to where we are today. As my ABC series looked at the current state of urbanism(s), and Cindy’s new series is looking at the future of urbanism, there was an opportunity to look at the history of urbanism. This idea became concrete when I came across this urban planning timeline.

In this series, I will be giving a brief overview of the historical development of several theories, trends and styles in urbanism, urban planning and the growth of cities. The series will focus on North American urban patterns from pre-Columbian times to the present. The frame the series, each post will look at either an era (pre Colombian, Colonial) or a decade (1940s, 1990s). By the end of the series, I hope to have created an annotated timeline of the key events in the urban history of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” —George Santayana

My aim is to tell the story of how cities in North America evolved highlighting key places, people, policies and events in the history of urbanism on our continent. I hope to give readers a better understanding of how our cities developed over time and how they got the way they are today; if for no other reason so we can better learn from our mistakes and emulate our successes.

Along the way, I would appreciate your reaction. Please let me know what you liked, what you want more information on, and—most importantly—what you think I missed.

This series will appear every Tuesday.

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.