IAP: Planning for Small Cities

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 8:00am to 3:00pm

NOTE: THE SITE VISITS WILL BE HELD IN THE SPRING ON DATES TBD. The meetings with municipal officials will be held as scheduled.

The growth of large metropolitan areas, unforeseen 50 years ago, is a major success story. However, that growth has had impacts on quality of life in these large areas. Issues of affordability, lack of sufficient transit and bicycle networks, and physical disparities between where jobs are being created and where workers live, all create challenges for cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

This session will look at an emerging trend in urban development – the rise of the Small City. More than previous generations, Millennials are choosing to locate in these second- and third-tier cities as a way of balancing quality of life, employment opportunities, and the benefits of city amenities. These Small Cities – from larger ones such as Grand Rapids, MI, to smaller ones such as Portsmouth, NH – are faced with new planning opportunities and challenges as a result. How to make sure current residents can stay when new residents inevitably drive up the cost of housing and create competition for employment? What about social services and the opportunity faced by New Americans, who are also relocating to Small Cities? The pandemic and increases in working “wherever” appear to be driving this trend even more quickly.

We will meet virtually with officials and stakeholders from two sample communities – Salem, MA and Portland, ME – on two different weeks. In the Spring (date TBD) we will follow up with a walking site visit of each city to learn about how planning efforts have contributed to their evolution from failing 20th century cities to thriving 21st century destinations – and what challenges remain as these cities become more attractive places to live and visit.


Jeff Levine, Lecturer

Enrollment: Limited to 10: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/03

This class will consist of four sessions:

1/10 (12:30 to 3 pm.) – Salem virtual discussions with stakeholders

TBD (approximately 8 am. to 3 pm.) – Salem site visit

1/24 (12:30 to 3 pm.) – Portland (ME) virtual discussions with stakeholders

TBD (approximately 8 am. to 5 pm.) – Portland site visit”


Advance sign up required: https://forms.gle/iZzEUERKxqnFLSr3A

Sponsor(s): Urban Studies and Planning
Contact: Jeff Levine, jrlevine@mit.edu

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IAP (Independent Activities Period)

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School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P)

Department of Urban Studies & Planning
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