MAKESHIFT METROPOLIS: IDEAS
(New York: Scribner, 2010), 256 pages.
Witold Rybczynski, professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, presents the history of city planning in the United States in his 2010 book, Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas about Cities. Rybczynski's treatment of urban history is scrupulous, offering literal and figurative pictures of how urban planning proliferated, dedicating a significant portion of the book to three schools of thought: Charles Mulford Robinson's City Beautiful, Ebenezer Howard's Garden City and Le Corbusier's Radiant City. These thinkers dominated the urban planning scene in the first hall of the twentieth century, only to be dealt an architectural haymaker by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, who attacked self-interested city planners and argued that the market could do a better job organizing a city. Rybczynski argues that Jacobs's vision has in many ways been realized, despite the legacy of planning inspired by Lewis Mumford, who emerged as a contemporary counterweight to Jacobs.
The author's presentation of city planning is more chronicle than prescription, with a stronger focus on...