The 10 Best Urban Planning Textbooks

video play icon 10 Best Urban Planning Textbooks

This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in July of 2018. If you have a desire to see real change in the way that your community is organized, you might want to consider studying for a career in urban planning. You would be able to impact things like road layouts, housing plans, parks, transportation, historical preservation, and much more. These textbooks will ensure that you have an understanding of every facet before entering the field. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning

2. Contemporary Urban Planning

3. Environmental Planning Handbook

Editor's Notes

June 03, 2020:

As cities modernize and expand and technology improves, there's an increasing need for urban planners to help conceptualize everything from urban farming and parks to solving complex housing issues and implementing cutting-edge mass transit systems.

We wanted this list to touch on a bit of everything, so you'll find works on public green spaces like Urban Forestry: Planning and Managing Urban Greenspaces and environmental concerns such as the newly-added Environmental Planning Handbook. We brought on the latter to replace The Urban and Regional Planning Reader since we felt this list already had an abundance of tomes that offer the same broad coverage, but with more detail.

For students still exploring their career options, there's Becoming an Urban Planner, which expounds on everything from educational requirements to the future of the profession. Planning and Urban Design Standards is useful for anyone looking to get a comprehensive best practices guide for learning and later, reference, and covers myriad topics to give readers a thorough grounding.

Today we brought on The American City at the expense of Planning for Growth: Urban and Regional Planning in China. While the latter is extremely interesting to those already well-versed in the subject, it's not ideal for those just beginning to dabble. And while it's very beneficial, and even vital, to get a non-Western perspective or to look at how other countries are doing things, we feel it's best to start in your own backyard before moving on to global perspectives. The American City is really good for that, extensively going over problematic and successful programs throughout the US and extracting teachable moments from each one.

Special Honors

Planners Web Although the creators are no longer adding new content, Planners Web hosts over 600 articles regarding city planning written and edited so that the layperson without a degree can understand them. You'll find information on everything from comprehensive planning and growth management to land use law, environmental issues, housing and development, and more. If you're picking up a textbook because you're looking to take a self-paced route to learning, consider supplementing it with an online course. is among one of the best digital education platforms out there, offering an introduction to the field with classes in city development, land use planning, sustainable urban development, technological advancements, and more from top universities and institutions.

4. The American City

5. Planning and Urban Design Standards

6. Urban Forestry: Planning and Managing Urban Greenspaces

7. Becoming an Urban Planner

8. Urban Transportation Planning

9. Urban Sprawl and Public Health

10. Urban Planning For Dummies

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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