John Nolen (1869-1937) was the first American to identify himself exclusively as a town and city planner. Educated at Harvard University, Nolen is regarded today as the dean of American city planning and a pioneer in the field. He and his firm completed more than four hundred planning projects from 1905-1937. Among them were comprehensive plans for more than twenty-five cities across the country, including Venice, Florida.
Born in Philadelphia, Nolen studied economics, philosophy, and public administration at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Various jobs in parks and gardens complemented his early career as an educator. In 1903, at the age of 34 with a wife and children, Nolen returned to school to pursue landscape architecture as a profession. At Harvard he studied under Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and Arthur Shurcliff. He opened his office in Harvard Square in 1905. The firm completed over 450 projects, including comprehensive plans for 29 cities and 27 new towns in this country. Nolen also traveled frequently abroad to study foreign planning models. Typically his work provided multi-year consulting for municipalities. Strong administrative, economic and philosophic convictions provided an underpinning for his work. In his pioneering work in parkway design, he believed that circumferential highways and parkways benefited cities and merited tax support. As a leading city planner, he influenced a generation of professionals. Nolen played an important role in multiple professional planning organizations, including the National Conference on City Planning and the International Federation of Housing and Town Planning. His influence extended beyond his consulting through his publications including New Ideals in the Planning of Cities, Towns and Villages (1919) and New Towns for Old (1927).
R. Bruce Stephenson, PhD,
Professor of Environmental Studies, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
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The Sustainable City created with Multi-Modal Transportation planning solutions.
More About Dr. Stephenson & Living New Urbanism.
F. L. Olmsted Jr. and John Nolen, Normal Requirements for Public Open Space (1906)
B. Stephens Bruce Stephenson, PhD, Professor of Environmental Studies
Video Introduction: Bruce Stephenson, PhD & Life of John Nolen
Congress for New Urbanism Florida 2020 John Nolen Award Presentation
Utopian Plans for the Modern World: John Nolen,
Lewis Mumford, and the Origins of Sustainability
By Bruce Stephenson, PhD - Journal of Planning History
Published January 19, 2018
VIEWPOINT: Portland Defines the New Decade in Planning
By Bruce Stephenson, PhD
(in advance of his new book below)