If you are preparing for the AICP Exam. This post is a summary of notes taken on planning history. This is not an extensive list of what the exam may cover, but are the concepts I reviewed prior to the exam. Hopefully this helps as you structure your study as you look into additional study material. 


Planning Firsts

1790 – First US Census
1872 – First National Park, Yellowstone
1885 – First Skyscraper, (Chicago, IL)
1907 – First Planning Board (Hartford, CT)
1916 – First Zoning Ordinance (New York City, NY)
1909 – First National Conference on Planning (Washington D.C.)
1925 – First Comprehensive Plan for the City of Cincinnati, OH
1929 – First Planning School, Harvard
1954 – First Council of Governments (Detroit, MI)
1956 – Downtown Pedestrian Mall (Kalamazoo MI)
1970 – First “Earth Day”
1905 – First Forestry Service Director, Gifford Pinchot
1911 – First Garden Suburbs (Forest Hills Gardens, NY)
1915 – First Planning Commission Employee, Harland Bartholomew
1921 – First Historic Preservation (New Orleans, LA)

Planning Pioneers

  • Daniel Burnham – Father of City Planning
  • Edward Bassett – Zoning 
  • Patrick Geddes – Regional Planning
  • Paul Davidoff – Advocacy Planning
  • Ian McHarg – Modern Ecology
  • Lawrence Veiller – Modern Housing Code

Planning Influencers

  • Frank Lloyd Write developed the concept of the Broadacre City presented in his book The Disappearing City in 1932
  • Jane Jacobs is known for her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, where she identified planning decisions that led to cities’ decline.
  • Robert Moses
  • Joel Garretau come up with the Ede Citgy concept (discussed below).
  • Ernest Burgess author of The City and Robert Park, developed the concentric zone model in 1925, which depicts land use in a series of rings. 
  • Ebenezer Howard founded the Garden City movement, responding to the pollustion of industrial industrial uses and sprawling developments void of green space.
  • Le Corbusier was known for his vision of the Radiant City. 
  • Sherry Arnstein Ladder of Citizen Participation establishes levels of citizen participation: nonparticipation, tokenism, and citizen power.
  • Kevin Lynch, authored Image of the City
  • Ian McHarg authored Design With Nature

Settlement Patterns

Concentric Zone Model
1925, Burgess, Settlement patterns are seen as a set of concentric rings.

  • Central Business District (center)
  • Independent Worker Housing
  • Better Housing
  • Suburban Housing
  • Commuter Housing (Outermost ring)

Sector Model
1939, Homer Hoyt

Multiple Nuclei
1945, Harris and Ullman


Planning Movements

Below is a list of planning movements that you can note.

Sanitary Reform & Public Health Movement began in the mid-1800s in response to the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics due to rapid urbanization and industrialization.

Garden City Movement was created by English town planner Ebenezer Howard in the late 1800s in response to overcrowding and congestion occurring due to urban development. His idea of the city was a 6,000-acre tract with compact development toward the center surrounded by agricultural land. He authored Tomorrow A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, discussing the Garden City movement. The book was reissued in 1902 as Garden Cities of Tomorrow. Reference: Garden City Urban Planning (Britannica) 

City Beautiful Movement was first introduced by Daniel Burnham at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in the late 1800s. It was a response to the negative conditions associated with urban development at the time. Outcome: 1909 Plan of Chicago

City Efficient Movement focused on standardizing planning and bringing technical details of city planning. The City Efficient Movement replaced the City Beautiful Movement. Led to the Standard State Zoning Enabling Act (SSZEA).

New Towns started from the Garden City Movement and focused on eliminating overcrowding by encouraging populations to move from the city to newer, less dense towns.

City Functional Movement focused on “scientific” city management and was based on the ideas of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., 

Edge Cities, coined in the 1990s by Joel Garreau in Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, is the idea that commercial corridors can occur outside of a city’s downtown or central business district. Garreau established criteria for these ‘edge’ conditions, such as minimum density of office space, the minimum size of a major retailer, commuter characteristics to and from the commercial area, attributes that establish the corridor as a destination, and the types of needed changes in developed areas over time. 

Smart Growth focuses on compact, mixed-use development to prevent sprawl and encourage sustainability. 

Planning Theory 

Synoptic Planning

Rational Planning Model

Incremental Planning 

Transactive Planning Theory

Advocacy Planning 

Advocacy and Equity Planning Advocacy 

Radical Planning




Historic Timeline of the American Planning Association (APA)

1909 – The First National Conference on City Planning was held in Washington, D.C..

1917 – American City Planning Institute was incorporated

1934 – American Society of Planning Officials (ASPO) was created

1939 – American City Planning Institute renamed to the American Institute of Planners (AIP)

1978 – American Institute of Planners (AIP) and American Society of Planning Officials (ASPO) merge to form the American Planning Association (APA)

Housing Law

Housing Act of 1934 created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure long-term mortgage loans on homes and rental housing, home alterations, repair, and other improvements in low-income communities. 

Housing Act of 1937 authorizes the Government to pay subsidies to local public housing agencies that provide public housing to low-income residents.

Housing Act of 1949 was passed to help address the decline of urban housing and provide regulation on how federal financial resources would be used for housing developments. 

Housing Act of 1954 provided funding provisions for new housing, the elimination of slums, and home rehabilitation in urban communities.

Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, and handicap and family status.

Fredrick Douglass

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