The best books about cities go far beyond urban studies or dry, academic analysis.
The best books on cities look at the cities’ role in history, the culture of cities and the impact cities have on its inhabitants and all those who share a history with it.
Here are 20 nonfiction books that explore the city from all different angles and explain how the changing city landscape tells us everything about our past, present and future.
A pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.
This brilliant and eye-opening look at the new phenomenon called the aerotropolis gives us a glimpse of the way we will live in the near future―and the way we will do business too.
Cities of Tomorrow is a critical history of planning in theory and practice in the twentieth century, as well as of the social and economic problems and opportunities that gave rise to it.
A cutting exploration of how cities drive climate change while being on the frontlines of the coming climate crisis.
A globe-trotting, eye-opening exploration of how cities can―and do―make us happier people.
The term gentrification has become a buzzword to describe the changes in urban neighborhoods across the country, but we don’t realize just how threatening it is. It means more than the arrival of trendy shops, much-maligned hipsters, and expensive lattes. The very future of American cities as vibrant, equitable spaces hangs in the balance.
In this new work, prize winning author, professor, and Slate architecture critic Witold Rybczynski returns to the territory he knows best: writing about the way people live, just as he did in the acclaimed bestsellers Home and A Clearing in the Distance. In Makeshift Metropolis, Rybczynski has drawn upon a lifetime of observing cities to craft a concise and insightful book that is at once an intellectual history and a masterful critique.
This book is for anyone who wants to change the way we live in cities without waiting for the glacial pace of change in government.
On a Saturday morning in December 1973, a section of New York’s West Side Highway collapsed under the weight of a truck full of asphalt. The road was closed, seemingly for good, and the 80,000 cars that traveled it each day had to find a new way to their destinations. It ought to have produced traffic chaos, but it didn’t. The cars simply vanished. It was a moment of revelation: the highway had induced the demand for car travel. It was a classic case of “build it and they will come,” but for the first time the opposite had been shown to be true: knock it down and they will go away. Samuel I. Schwartz was inspired by the lesson. He started to reimagine cities, most of all his beloved New York, freed from their obligation to cars. Eventually, he found, he was not alone.
An empowering road map for rethinking, reinvigorating, and redesigning our cities, from a pioneer in the movement for safer, more livable streets.
If humankind can be said to have a single greatest creation, it would be those places that represent the most eloquent expression of our species’s ingenuity, beliefs, and ideals: the city. In this authoritative and engagingly written account, the acclaimed urbanist and bestselling author examines the evolution of urban life over the millennia and, in doing so, attempts to answer the age-old question: What makes a city great?
The city’s development from ancient times to the modern age. Winner of the National Book Award. “One of the major works of scholarship of the twentieth century” (Christian Science Monitor).
Spanning the ages and the globe, Spiro Kostof explores the city as a “repository of cultural meaning” and an embodiment of the community it shelters.
A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured.
The Geography of Nowhere traces America’s evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.
In The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City we travel the nation with Alan Ehrenhalt, one of our leading urbanists, as he explains how America’s cities are changing, what makes them succeed or fail, and what this means for our future.
In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world’s superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality.
A fascinating guided tour of the ways things work in a modern city.
A pioneering urban economist presents a myth-shattering look at the majesty and greatness of cities.
Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. Making downtown into a walkable, viable community is the essential fix for the typical American city; it is eminently achievable and its benefits are manifold.