Last year, The Grid went on a mission to uncover the most popular urban planning-related websites for 2012. With extensive research and the help of Alexa International Rankings, we were able to compile a list of the top 20 websites for this specific niche. It is time for an update. In the list for 2013 we see a few familiar names made it back, with some moving up the ranking and others moving down, as well as some completely new sites, including Grist, Blueprint America, Newgeography and Untapped Cities. Once again, we have a mix ranging from non-profit to for-profit to hobbyist lists. Check out our new list here and on Twitter to see where urban planners from around the world are getting their information and accessing urban planning resources.
1. Blueprint America / http://www.pbs.org/wnet/blueprintamerica/category/blogs / @beyondmotorcity
Blueprint America specializes in a specific niche of urban planning - infrastructure. This pioneering initiative was founded in 2008 by Thirteen/WNET and is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The site uses a variety of outlets, including videos, blogs and web-only content to address the deficient service to America’s infrastructure and the implications that come with it. This is a topic typically under-reported by traditional news media outlets. Blueprint America has gained significant exposure by partnering with various news programs, most notably PBS. If you feel like the site is missing some content or there is some material you would like to add, you can easily provide input on their page.
Grist is a nonprofit media organization that brings environmental stories straight to its 1,500,000+ readers. Based out of Seattle, Washington, it was founded in 1999 and is funded by foundation grants, user donations and advertising. By putting a little bit of humor in each of its reports, this quirky site connects everyday events to climate issues and takes the often depressing tone that comes with this topic out of its content. And by welcoming stories and photos from readers, Grist effectively engages its audience. If you are interested in their work, you can sign up for one or several weekly newsletters by filling out this form.
Newgeography, a joint venture of Joel Kotvin and Praxis Strategy Group, studies our neighborhoods and their relationship to our work, economy and infrastructure. It tries to develop solutions to how we can best respond to the dynamic, ever-changing world we now know. Not only does the site try to help us by digging into various topics such as urban planning, economic development and politics, but it also encourages our input. Just check out their list of contributing editors!
Streetsblog is your source for any and all news on sustainable transportation and livable communities. The site is produced by the non-profit OpenPlans and funded through grants, sponsorships, advertising and donations from readers. Streetsblog makes its easy to read blogs from all over the US through an interactive map that connects its readers to different stories from around the country. Additionally, Streetsblog connects local advocacy groups to one another in order to promote transportation reform. If you want to see a blog added to their network, just fill out this form here!
Last year’s number one urban planning website has moved down to number five in 2013. Still, Planetizen has been going strong since 2000, acting as an effective source of information for urban planning news, commentary, interviews, event coverage, book reviews, announcements, jobs, consultant listings, online training and courses, and much more. They cover a wide array of planning issues and cater to an audience of professional urban planners, developers, architects, policy makers, educators, economists, civic enthusiasts, and others from all around the world. Planetizen is still the urban planner’s one-stop shop.
The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nonprofit research and educational organization supported by its members, has maintained the same ranking since last year. The institute’s initiatives are focused on emerging land use trends and issues; proposing creative solutions based upon their research findings. Their work encompasses a variety of sectors within the industry, including resort and residential, retail and destination development, office and industrial development, transportation and parking, housing and the land use and real estate market. It is no wonder that this organization has reached international acclaim online; fostering strong country-specific and district offices around the world. You can join this international organization too, or learn more by purchasing the ULI magazines, books, or signing up for one of their professional development courses.
Last year’s number two ranked urban planning-related website has dropped down five spots, from number two to number seven for 2013’s rankings. Sustainable Cities Collective is an editorially independent, and moderated community created with the generous support of Siemens AG. Sustainable Cities Collective provides unique and aggregated content related to urban planning, sustainable development, and urban economics, among other issues. They cover the fields of building and design, planning, resources, populace, economy, and transportation. If you want to blog for them or just get more involved you can tie your existing blog’s RSS feed onto their site, manually submit content and sign up for RSS or email updates.
The American Planning Association (APA), created in 1978, is an independent nonprofit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. Last year we saw this site at number five in our list, but it still holds a solid spot in the top 10. The APA website offers job and consultancy listing opportunities, outreach, continuing education, events (including annual national and regional conferences), membership information, and planning chapters so you can get involved locally. They also offer opportunities to read up on their reports regarding career development within the sector, and salaries.
Our 2012 number three website for urban planners has dropped down to number nine in 2013. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, started in 1978, before sustainable urban development had become a global priority. Today, the UN-HABITAT organization and website serve as the international agency to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. Their themes include environment and climate change, information and monitoring, land and housing, risk and disaster management, social inclusion, urban development and management, urban economy and financing shelter, and water & sanitation infrastructure. They also host a slew of annual events, including the World Urban Forum.
As you might imagine judging by the title, Untapped Cities digs up unique and hidden stories of our cities. Discovered in 2011 by Michelle Young, this urban planning blog now has over 300 contributors from around the world informing readers about new places through their journalism and photography. If you are interested in joining their impressive list of contributors, all you have to do is contact them. In addition to their numerous blogs, Untapped Cities has its own shopping center called society6, which allows you to search and shop for artwork, clothing and accessories from cities throughout the globe.
These next 10 also include some familiar names, including last year’s number seven ranked BLDGBLOG and This Big City at number 14. Our list continues to grow more competitive as an increasing number of impressive urban planning sites enter the scene. Join our list on Twitter so you can easily follow these site's stories, photos and urban planning news with minute-to-minute tweeted updates.
11. Cyburbia / @cyburbia_forums
12. Project for Public Spaces / @PPS_Placemaking
13. Planning Resource / @PlanningMag
14. This Big City / @thisbigcity
15. BLDGBLOG / @bldgblog
16. Copenhaganize / @copenhaganize
17. The City Fix / @EMBARQNetwork
18. Human Transit / @humantransit
19. City Farmer News / @CityFarmerNews
20. Arcosanti / @Arcosanti
We know there are many other websites used by urban planning professionals and enthusiasts. After reviewing our list, are there any missing that you think belong in our Top 20?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.