Urban planning makes a city beautiful and efficient. A user asked the forum, “What are some American cities with the best urban planning?” Here are the top responses. 


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“Chicago is the best-planned city in the United States. The grid system is straightforward to understand, making it very easy to know where you are in the city once you learn which direction Lake Michigan is. The Downtown area is also very grand in a way that many other United States cities lack.”


Manhattan, new york, USA, city
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“Manhattan. It’s pretty much the first city that was planned.”


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“Bellingham. Now, it isn’t a big city, but one thing I adore is that when they put in the University, they didn’t put in any sidewalks. They just waited for the students to walk enough to make paths. These were the paths of least resistance. Then, when the natural thoroughfares were established between all the buildings, etc., they turned them into proper walking paths.”


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“People who like public transport disagree, but Phoenix, Arizona, is well planned.

All the streets are on a North/South/East/West grid, with major roads forming blocks of about one square mile. Interspersed throughout are parks, which are set below street level and used as flood control for our seasonal monsoons.

Our grid system is so easy to use and figure out that everyone knows it within a few weeks of living here. If you give someone directions somewhere, you usually say, ‘South East Corner of 48th Street and Broadway.’

Phoenix is further divided into ‘Urban Villages,’ each with its unique history. Usually, there is some slight cultural change from neighborhood to neighborhood.”


City hall in Philadelphia, PA, USA and fireworks in the night sky show
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“In my limited experience, Center City Philadelphia is decently well-planned for the transportation available at the time of the city’s founding (1682). The fact that City Hall is still fairly easy to spot from the street in most locations in Center City helps a lot when you’re down there. For me, it helps that United States-1 is close enough to walk to serve as a landmark.”


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“Probably New York, Boston, or the District of Columbia. One of the cities built before cars ruined city design.”


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“Henderson, Nashville, is the second biggest city in the state and makes up a large portion of the Las Vegas metro area. Our city government prides itself on having a ‘master-planned’ community, and you have to jump through hoops if you want to build anything. 

It does look pretty good, although I must voice concern over the placement of bushes and shrubs at intersections, especially those without stop signs, because I can’t see the cars entering the same intersection as me. Someone cut the bushes near where I live once, and it was awesome, but the city put new ones back in, which was not awesome.”


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“Minneapolis is an amazing and clean industrial but modern American city.”


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“Savannah, Georgia is a series of squares. It’s beautiful and easy to navigate.”


Colorful lights reflecting off the Willamette River in Downtown Portland, Oregon
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“For best, I’m not quite sure, but Portland and Seattle have the best as far as I know.

But many Southern and Sun Belt cities need better urban planning, like Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, and Atlanta. 

They have out-of-control suburban sprawl with awful public transit systems that are useless outside of the cities themselves, which a vast majority of the metro’s population lives outside of (though from what I heard, Atlanta and Houston are now trying to fix the mess they created, which is good).”


July 4th fireworks above the Charles River in Boston
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“The Emerald Necklace in Boston is a good example. I find urban planning a fascinating topic, and the more I live in New York city, the more I see the little touches, like the first row of trees in Central Park being outside the park, in most places, so even though there’s a wall, there’s no hard transition point between ‘in the park’ and ‘outside the park.'”


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“Buffalo was designed by Joseph Ellicott, who also worked in Washington, the District of Columbia. We’re one of the few cities to have a radial street system.

It was said that Buffalo is America’s Best Designed City by Federick Olmsted, who would go on to design the entire park and parkway system of the city.

Recently, we’re trying hard to regain that title, bypassing some of the most stringent urban planning guidelines in the nation with a focus on density and transit-oriented development.”


San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge at
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“Working city planners (I was on The American Planning Association staff for years) would probably point to Portland, San Francisco, Washington, and maybe Boston as the strongest urban planning departments.”

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