In addition to and separate from the text book, I also have a book on the history of using architecture and planning to promote health coming out next summer. Here are the chapter synopses.
Chapter 1. Introduction After decades of complacency regarding the built environment and health, a series of events sparked renewed attention on the role of buildings, neighborhoods, and metropolitan areas in safeguarding health, property, and life. In response, the professions of public health and urban planning, both broadly defined, began to work together again. A set of basic definitions are presented, a framework for analyzing the built environment is proposed, and some of the factors that influence how societies build neighborhoods and cities are discussed. Chapter 2. The Urban Crisis Begins Cities were troubled at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but the industrial revolution was to dramatically worsen conditions because of a combination of industrialization, immigration, and urbanization. As low wage workers poured into growing cities, infrastructure was overwhelmed, housing became overcrowded and sanitation deteriorated. The results included epidemics, losses to fires, and frequent civil unrest. One legacy of this era is that many people continue to have a mental image of cities as unsafe, unhealthy places. Chapter 3. The Age of Reform A rising middle class and a growing reform movement began to try to address the conditions in cities. Based upon the science of this age including Thomas Southwood Smith’s medical writings on how miasmas caused disease, reformers conducted sanitary surveys and proposed laws to regulate the worst of environmental problems threatening urban populations. One result of the efforts of the sanitarians was the new profession of public health. Other efforts included model tenements, urban parks, and public water supplies. Important events and trends including the dramatic remaking of Paris, development of the skyscraper, and Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition were to change how cities looked. Chapter 4. Housing Laws, Zoning, and Building Codes A new generation of reformers began to take up the challenges of improving cities at the beginning of the twentieth century. Reformers developed a new housing law that served as the basis for model legislation across the United States. Another group of reformers borrowed the idea of zoning from Germany and eventually produced a model zoning law for use by states and cities. Along with the development of building codes, these laws helped to improve housing conditions, at least for new construction, and they are partially responsible for the standardization of the built environment in the United States. Chapter 5. Building a Suburban Utopia Suburbanization in the United States is as old as the country itself. Though many think of them as being built without plan or forethought, US suburbs are the result of a rich planning and health tradition. Suburban planning theory produced the ideas of the Garden City, the neighborhood unit, and other influential planning trends that Frank Lloyd Wright and others used to propose the ideal suburb. Suburbs have shortcomings, particularly in the racist policies that influenced their development in the mid twentieth century and their later adoption of dendritic street patterns, but have they provided a good life and healthy environment for millions. Chapter 6. The Lessons of Modernism A major twentieth century architectural movement, Modernism incorporated a strong dedication to promoting health and social justice. Determined to use new technologies, it purposely aimed to transform worker housing, office buildings, and cities. But its emphasis on unornamented buildings and high rises set on large superblocks, along with its ignoring of the needs and desires of building users, condemned it to failure as a means of protect health. It prioritized access to sunlight and ventilation, but was not based on epidemiological research. Though today there are a number of important buildings, its influence has faded. Chapter 7. Public Housing Over time, the characterization of housing issues changed from environmental to informational to regulatory to economic. Again borrowing from European examples, the public housing movement succeeded in promoting a program in the United States in the mid twentieth century. The failure of the program is often blamed on poor Modernist designs, but more important were the programmatic constraints placed on housing quality and the often inappropriate siting decisions of what became a highly politicized program. Today, the United States spends much more on subsidizing home ownership for the well to do than rental housing for the poor. Chapter 8. Urban Renewal and Highway Construction Cities were thought to be on the brink of a crisis as World War II ended because of suburbanization, poor housing, traffic and racist attitudes towards growing African American populations. Mayors sought to rebuild and strengthen their cities using the principles of Modernism and suburban inspired development programs. The result was urban renewal, which along with highway construction, destroyed urban neighborhoods and displaced millions. The new developments and highways failed to revive cities and the racist underpinnings of the program produced particular hardships for African Americans. In addition, public health played an important role in the implementation of urban renewal. Chapter 9. Decline and Rise Cities began to rebound in the final decades of the twentieth century, in part due to the successful implementation of theories by Jane Jacobs and others. She held that it was density and complexity that made urban living worthwhile and she specifically rejected the theories of Modernists, garden city advocates and others. New Urbanists and others used these ideas to promote compact communities that emphasized pedestrian circulation and mixed uses. These innovations were not always successful, but they helped spark rethinking of what was a healthy city. Public health, however, was not part of this effort at the time. Chapter 10. A New Age of Cities and Health As renewed immigration and the development of new urban forms helped revive cities in the United States, a growing obesity epidemic in this country caught the attention of public health. Because many of the alternative explanations for the rise in obesity were unsatisfactory, researchers returned to the study of the built environment and reestablished connections with urban planners. The evidence is yet definitive and there are many questions still to answer but today, these professions often jointly advocate for transit, community gardens, walkable communities and other health promoting programs and policies. Chapter 11. Future Trends and Needs The obesity epidemic, among other events, prompted a reconnection between public health and urban planning. A major threat looming for humanity is global climate change, which may dramatically reshape the built, social, and physical environment. At this time, we may not know how best to address this threat, but new and innovative responses are imperative. In the meantime, US urbanism is thriving and holds much promise. It should be hoped that we as a society can apply the lessons of the past 150 years of urban development to make our built environment healthier for all.