The Market Urbanism Book List

A list of classics, old and new, that call for a more liberalized approach to cities.
By The Market Urbanism Report | Sep 27, 2017 |
By The Market Urbanism Report | Sep 27, 2017 |

Want to learn more about the Market Urbanism concept? The best way is by reading the books that inspired the movement all along.

Before the term was even popularized, there was a strong intellectual legacy of writers who had called for more open markets—and less government planning—in cities. A number of their books are still influential, and more are being written each year. Here’s a list, although it is by no means exhaustive. If I've left any books out, please suggest them in the comments.

Alain Bertaud

Order Without Design – 2018 — in the latest hot book for Market Urbanists, the NYU economist with a lifetime of studying cities makes the case for less planning and more emergent urban orders.

Bernard Siegan

Land Use Without Zoning - 1972 - shows the negative consequences of urban zoning policies, and the positives of not having any zoning, as found in Houston

Donald Shoup

The High Cost Of Free Parking – 2005 — minimum parking requirements and free side-street parking, argues the UCLA planning professor, creates congestion, sprawl and high housing prices.

Edward Glaeser

Rethinking Federal Housing Policy - 2008 - co-written with Joseph Gyourko, this imagines a federal housing policy that encourages more housing supply, and income transfers to further fill the gaps.

Triumph Of The City – 2012 – penned by the famed Harvard economist, this is perhaps the most unapologetically pro-density book ever written. Also includes essays about urban history, infrastructure and public administration.

James Vance

The Continuing City: Urban Morphology In Western Civilization -- 1990 -- traces the physical evolution of cities from ancient times to the present

Jane Jacobs

Credit to Amazon

The Death And Life Of Great American Cities —1961— This one needs little introduction. Jacobs’ magnum opus was an attack on post-WWII federal urban renewal policy, and a celebration of traditional urban neighborhoods and bottom-up placemaking.

The Economy Of Cities – 1970 – Expanding on her earlier work, this book looks at how cities organically manage their exports and imports, and grow their industry in general.

Cities And The Wealth Of Nations -- 1985 -- argues that cities, rather than nations, are what drive wealth

Martin Anderson

The Federal Bulldozer – 1967 – Serving as a compliment to Jacobs’ first book, this also critiqued federal urban renewal policy.

Matt Yglesias

The Rent Is Too Damn High – 2012 – This short e-book, which was published right before high rents became a mainstream urban American issue, became a rallying call for pro-housing activists nationwide.

Michael Lewyn

Credit to Amazon

Government Intervention And Suburban Sprawl: The Case For Market Urbanism — 2017 – Published early this year, and written by the Touro law professor and frequent Market Urbanism Report contributor, this is the only book to ever use Market Urbanism in its title. Lewyn argues that suburban sprawl was partly an outcome of government regulation.

Peter Gordon

The Voluntary City — 2009 – co-authored with David Beito and Alex Tabarrok, this explains how to revive urban life by encouraging private, voluntary provision of infrastructure, social services and community governance.

Randal O'Toole

The Best-laid Plans - 2007 - uses case studies to show how government urban planning leads to unintended consequences and botched execution, and how market-based planning can work instead

Richard Rothstein

The Color Of Law -- 2017 --  arguably the most important urbanist book of this year, it argues that mid-20th-century government policies had a direct effect in segregating America by race.

Robert Caro

The Power Broker – 1975 – This is an exhaustive biography of Robert Moses, the New York City planner who was responsible for shaping (and demolishing) much of New York City.

Ryan Avent

The Gated City – 2011 – The staff writer at The Economist describes the phenomenon of NIMBYism, and how it is causing many great global cities to become expensive and exclusive.

Sonia Hirt

Zoned in the USA - 2014 - describes the uniquely American urban form that has been created by zoning: sprawling, segregated, car-oriented and infrastructure-intensive

William Fischel

Zoning Rules!: The Economics Of Land Use Regulation – 2015 – A look by the Dartmouth economist at zoning: its history, its perceived benefits, and the real-life problems that it creates.

William Tucker

The Excluded Americans: Homelessness and Housing Policies – 1990 – this analyzes how government housing policy spurs homelessness, and how it can be reformed.

William Whyte

The Social Life Of Small Urban Spaces – 1980 – This book serves both as a primer for how cities can create well-used public spaces, and a critique of government regulations/incentives that discourage them.