The American City

What You'll Learn

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

3 hours 26 minutes
Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A is a Professor of Urban Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
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.

48 min AICP CM
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.

51 min AICP CM
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.

54 min AICP CM
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.

54 min