The American City

Many people see U.S. cities as a radical departure in the history of town planning because of the planned, geometrical division of land present throughout the country. However, other cities of the world also began as planned towns with geometric layouts, so U.S. cities are not completely unique in the evolution of urban planning. Why did the regular grid come to pervasively characterize U.S. urbanism? How are U.S. cities actually different from international peers? How did the history of urban design produce specific decisions? "The American City" answers these questions and many more by exploring the urban morphology of U.S. cities. In some ways, U.S. cities are unique including a strong historical preference for geometric regularity in town planning, which endures to this day. However, in more important ways, U.S. cities are still subject to the same processes linking street networks and human use found in all cities of the world. Most courses in this track are approved for AICP CM credit.

The American City, Part 1: A Brief History of the Regular Grid

Learn why the regular grid has been a standard part of the town planning vocabulary around the world for nearly five millennia.

47 Mins

The American City, Part 2: The Invention of a New Scale

Understand how the physical characteristics of block size and street length distinguish American cities from earlier models of urbanism, and the implications of these physical characteristics for sustainability in the 21st century.

50 Mins

The American City, Part 3: Learning from the Grid

This course demonstrates the well-defined formal composition and spatial processes of how American cities evolve over time.

53 Mins

The American City, Part 4: Complexity and Pattern in the City

Understand how sustainable urbanism can be a crucial component of the urban pattern, or otherwise subverted by government regulations and business models.

53 Mins

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