Small Cities in America: A Key to Sustainable Growth

Thursday, January 18, 2024 at 8:00am to 9:00pm

Portland, ME

Come for a day-long visit to learn about planning issues and efforts in the Forest City with the former Planning & Urban Development Director for Portland. We will travel by transit to experience how an innovative transit system works in a small city, and meet with city planning officials working on economic, housing, climate resilience and transportation issues.

Well known for its great architecture and food, Portland is rapidly becoming a place where climate migrants, affluent retirees, and those seeking urban amenities at a smaller scale are relocating. As a result, housing prices are up – as is homelessness. How does a Small City make sure any success is equitable? How do you make transit and walkability work in a place with relatively little traffic congestion? We will learn about how this small city by the ocean is trying to guide growth and change sustainably and justly. We will close out the day with a visit to a redevelopment district and one of the many tasting rooms in town, before taking the Downeaster train back to Boston.

This session will use this visit to learn about 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. The pandemic and increases in working “wherever” appear to be driving this trend even more quickly. How do we 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 living in Small Cities?

Be prepared for a long but interesting day, starting around 7 am. and returning to the Boston area around 8 pm. You should plan to dress for a Maine winter, including proper footwear, warm socks, and layers, as we will be walking outdoors for parts of the day.

Enrollment is limited to 12. Please send a short email of interest to Jeff Levine at before 12/15/23.  Given limited spots and likely strong interest, admitted students must commit to attending, except in case of illnesses or other serious issues. Preference given to DUSP students.

Event Type

Conferences/Seminars/Lectures, Community Event

Events By Interest

Academic, General, Climate & Sustainability

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Events By School

School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P)

Department of Urban Studies & Planning
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