Who Are the Top Urban Thinkers?


Jane Jacobs.

Jane Jacobs.

Planetizen, an urban planning, design, and community development website, has an interesting online poll to see who readers think are the most influential urban thinkers of all time.  From their website:  “Planetizen is creating a list of the most important people who have shaped urban places, and we want to know what you think. Vote on people nominated by the Planetizen community, or suggest your own.”  As for what they mean by “thinker,” they have intentionally “left the definition deliberately vague to encompass those who’ve had the most influence on the way we think about cities and/or how cities are shaped, for better or for worse.”  

For the poll, each reader is provided with 15 votes.  You may spread those 15 out or load up to 3 votes on any single thinker.  Polls opened August 6th and are open into September when they will announce the Top 50 Urban Thinkers poll (the announcement is on September 10th).  Currently, candidates that have received the most votes are:  writer Jane Jacobs (670 votes), urban planner and professor Kevin Lynch (286), historian and writer Lewis Mumford (268), and landscape architect and journalist Frederick Law Olmsted (265).  But living urban thinkers are garnering high votes, too.  For instance, new urbanist and co-founder of the Congress for New Urbanism Andrés Duany is ranked 5th with 223 votes.  And there are some interesting candidates, too; some are performing quite well in the polls.  For example, the oft-reviled New York City builder, Robert Moses, is ranked 16th with 117 votes, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson has picked up 45, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has 21, and Plato, the great ancient Greek philosopher, has nabbed 6.  (Disclosure:  I cast 3 votes for Plato, since, arguably, he is one of the greatest thinkers of all time and, among many other topics, he wrote extensively on the city).

Check out the poll and let your voice be heard by clicking here.

Jacobs’ image taken from: media.timeoutnewyork.com.


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