Monday, March 7, 2011

The City Beautiful Movement by William H. Wilson

William H. Wilson in The City Beautiful Movement offers a masterful analysis of the principles, conflicts, and legacy of the City Beautiful movement. The turn-of-the-century City Beautiful movement influenced the design, planning, and management of American cities from New York to San Francisco. Its effects are still felt today. Wide, tree-lined boulevards and monumental but low-lying buildings — libraries and museums, town halls and train stations — were designed to break up the familiar American gridiron of clogged streets and uncontrolled growth.
To be sure, City Beautiful was an environmental, sociocultural, and aesthetic movement, but Wilson also sees it as its founders did: as an exercise in participatory politics aimed at changing the way citizens thought about their cities. Far from being the province of an elite, City Beautiful depended on popular participation — from voter approval of bond issues to citizen activism on behalf of beautification. In those cities where the movement failed, it failed from a lack of local political infrastructure, not from the public's rejection of planning or of the City Beautiful philosophy.

more about City Beautiful Movement:

Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City

City Beautiful movement

The Roots and Origins of New Urbanism

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