The Public Interest

The Pragmatic Urban Planner

Joseph B. Rose

Summer 1982

THE problems of large American cities no longer draw the attention they did only a decade ago. Instead of focusing on bitter disputes over the location of public housing, the displacement of residential neighborhoods, or community participation in development decisions, the public and the media have shifted their concern to broader issues of economic policy. When cities are now discussed, it is usually in the context of overall economic development, unemployment, or disinvestment in public infrastructure.  This retreat from the national limelight has no doubt benefited the cities. We are spared the continuous assaults of those who would push their theories of “defensible space,” “urban sprawl,” and innumerable other insights into the “urban crisis.” Twenty years after Jane Jaeobs first called for an end to cities dominated by planners, the American city seems finally to have been spared the endless stream of dubious prescriptions proffered in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Perhaps the complex and stubborn nature of urban evolution was never suited to a frenzied debate which inevitably resulted in calls for bold government initiative.

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