R is for Regional Planning

June 30th, 2007

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Governor James Oglethorpe’s 1733 plan for Savannah — America’s first regional plan — set a framework for growth by providing for development by planned neighborhood units, focused on public squares, and edged by through streets. A key feature of the plan was the provision of public land reserves for future neighborhood additions. The plan also provided for Savannah’s urban center to be bounded by small allotment gardens for growing food for family consumption. These gardens were, in turn, rimmed by a network of larger farm plots. Each grouping of ten farms shared a wood lot, providing fuel and game. Oglethorpe’s recognition of the connection between agricultural production and urban vitality remains instructive for planners today. See S is for Sustainable Development.

The first modern city plan of a regional nature was George Kessler’s 1893 metropolitan parks plan for Kansas City, Missouri (see O is for Open Space). Coincidentally, 1893 also saw the opening of Chicago’s Columbian Exposition, which inspired The City Beautiful Movement in America and provided the impetus for the landmark 1909 Plan of Chicago. The Chicago Plan proposed acquisition of vast areas for future park and forest preserves and a regional road system.

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