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Environmental Design Library @ UC Berkeley

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History of City Planning

History of City Planning is a bibliographic guide to research resources for the history of city planning and urbanism at the University of California, Berkeley libraries and on the Web, with an emphasis on American and California city planning; this guide especially supports the course City Planning 200: History of City Planning. Additional resources for international planning are described in International Planning, a research guide. For titles on the history of planning and urbanization for individual countries or places please consult The Library's catalogs or the Environmental Design Library reference staff, 210 Wurster Hall.

Getting Started
Quick Facts
Web Links
Selected Readings
Campus Libraries
Doing Research
Finding Books
Finding Articles
Journals
Biographies
Bibliographies
Special Resources & Topics
Archives
Special Collections
Images & Maps
Finding Local Information
Professional Practice

UC Berkeley faculty, registered students, and staff who are off campus may use items marked UCB Only or UC Only by using The Library's off-campus access services.

Content reviewed: May 2011, by Lynn Cunningham. Compiled by Deborah Sommer, City Planning Librarian, Environmental Design Library.

Quick Facts

Use encyclopedias, guidebooks, and manuals to find quick facts and background information on your topic. In addition to the selected, specialized titles listed here, use general encyclopedias. For online encyclopedias go to The Library's home page→ Find Information? Electronic ResourcesElectronic resources: types A-Z Encyclopedias and Almanacs.

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Here's a short list of organizational and informational Web sites concerned with the history of planning.

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Selected Readings

Listed here are selected titles which present the history of planning from a broad perspective. To find additional titles, use the following subject terms in Melvyl advanced search: City planning--[place name]--History.

Selected Readings —General

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Selected Readings - United States
Listed here is a selection of titles on the history of American planning, with an emphasis on the U.S. as a whole, as well as a few classic texts.

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Campus Libraries

The following campus libraries have rich collections that support city planning history research.

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Finding Books

Here is a selected list of catalog subject headings which may be useful in your search. Check also for other useful subheadings, such as Bibliographies, History, Handbooks, etc. Guidebooks to cities may also have sections on city planning history.

tip For city planning research start with the Oskicat catalog; Oskicat covers UC Berkeley and has great keyword searching.

When Oskicat isn't enough, particularly when your topic is geographically remote from California, the Western U.S., Latin America, or the Pacific Rim, search Melvyl, a database of more than 1.5 billion records, for all libraries. Request items through The Library's Interlibrary Borrowing Service.

[place name]--Description and travel
[place name]--Guidebooks
Cities and towns--[place name]--History
City planners--Biography
City planners--[place name]
City planning--[place name]
City planning--History
Garden cities --[place name]--History
Land use, Urban --[place name]--History
New towns--[place name]--History
Regional planning--[place name]--History
Transportation--[place name]--Planning--History
Urban renewal--[place name]--History
Urbanization--[place name]--History

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Finding Articles

Use journal and newspaper indexes and databases to discover articles on your topic. Some online databases include the full text of the articles you discover or the icon which may lead you to the full text elsewhere. In many cases, however, you will need to locate the print journal in the Library's collections; search the Library's catalogs by the journal title in order to find the shelving location and call number for the journal. For UC Only or UCB Only titles, go to The Library's home page→ Find Information→ Articles.

Journal Indexes

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Newspaper Indexes
In addition to the indexes listed here, some newspapers are available full text on the Web; information regarding archives of older issues is sometimes available at these sites. See The Library's home page→ Find Information→ Electronic ResourcesElectronic resources: types A-ZNews Databases for a list of links to online full-text local and international newspapers and other news media.

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Selected Journals for Planning History

Here's a selection of historical and current journals containing articles relevant to city planning or urban history.

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Biographies

The biographies of planners can be rich sources of information about the history of a particular period or event in planning.

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Bibliographies

Specialized bibliographies can help you find publications on your topic. Also look for bibliographies in books as well as in journal and encyclopedia articles. To find additional bibliographies, search the Oskicat catalog: subject = City planning--History--Bibliography.

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Special Collections

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Images & Maps

In addition to the books and other sources already listed, urban images, plans, and maps may be found in specialized books and on the Web. The archives listed in this guide are also potentially great sources for images. See also Image Sources for the Built Environment for links to print and Web-based images.

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Finding Local Information

Finding information about a specific place can be challenging. Start with the Finding Local Information guide for strategies to help uncover hidden information.

Finding Public Records

Public records are important resources in researching the history of specific places. Local government agencies often maintain useful records, for example, building and water or utility permits and city block books. Note that older records may be held in historical agencies or public library special collections. Federal agencies also have materials related to historic buildings and places. Refer to the section Archives & Special Collections for a list of local collections and archival sources.

Finding Government Publications
Local and federal government publications can be great primary sources on the history of city planning in specific places. Use them to find records of public policy and community perspectives on diverse land use and community development issues. Many government documents are listed in The Library's catalogs; start with the Oskicat catalog for complete coverage of the UC Berkeley campus libraries.

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Finding General Plans
General plans, comprehensive plans, master plans—often the only record of a community's formal physical and public policy intentions—by any name local plans are excellent primary sources for history of planning research. Technically a category of government publications, general plans are so valuable for history of 20th century city planning research that they merit their own section.

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Archives

Archives, historical societies, and local libraries can be excellent sources of primary research materials in city planning and urban history. Most state libraries also maintain archival collections of public and other records. To locate materials located in libraries not listed in the Oskicat catalog, use WorldCat on FirstSearch and limit search results to Archival Materials'. Some of these materials may be available via The Library's Interlibrary Borrowing Service.

Professional Practice

Here's a selection of primary and secondary sources for the study of the history of American planning practice.

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