Our fifth annual ranking of urban planning websites is out! This year’s list is diverse and reflects the broad appeal and influence of urban planning not only among professionals, but also the public at-large. Like previous years, we used Alexa Analytics to rank the websites in this list and have chosen platforms dedicated exclusively to urban and city planning to ensure consistency. We hope that you will enjoy this year’s selection.
CityLab keeps its front runner position in this year’s ranking. The website has become the destination of urban news for urban planning professionals and all those seeking accessible, but well researched information on city and urban issues. With regularly updated content and an easy to navigate interface, the urban voice of Atlantic Media publishes articles addressing a wide range of urban issues including; transportation, housing, environment, economic development, security, politics, design and technologies. The CityFixer provides a unique overview of different solutions to city problems undertaken by urban activists around the world. We love the section dedicated to interactive maps, for all of us, map junkies out there - along with the photos and videos sections, filtering the most visual website posts.
City Journal is second in this year’s ranking. The New York-based magazine, published by the Manhattan Institute, was launched in 1994 and has since covered a wide range of topics falling within the realm of urban policy. The articles are classified under nine topics; arts and culture, cities, education, healthcare, economy, infrastructure, politics, public safety, technology, social order and others for uncategorized articles. Your website article search can also be filtered by publication date, contributor and through three locations; California, New York and Texas. The website’s special feature is its weekly podcast series “10 blocks,” hosted by City Journal Editor, Brian C. Anderson. The podcasts, which come with audio transcripts, discuss diverse urban issues, in no more than 20 minutes, with contributors and special guests. If you like City Journal content you can subscribe to receive their magazine’s latest - and earlier - issues both in print and online.
One of our favorites, the Streetsblog is a project by OpenPlans and publishes news and posts addressing issues related to public space and alternative transportation solutions. The blog is location specific and has an extension dedicated to major US cities as well as a few states. Posts are listed under the following categories: transit, bicycling, walking and public space; in addition to special categories such as L Train Shutdown and Streetfilms Countdown. Its multimedia branch, Streetfilms, is home to nearly 500 educational videos about sustainable transportation and livable streets with an archive going back to 2005; all freely distributed. We like the Today’s Headlines post, which aggregates transportation related news from different media outlets. The website also keeps an updated jobs board of planning and transportation employment opportunities in US local governments, transportation agencies, NGOs and private companies.
The Urban Institute is the online platform of the Washington D.C. based think tank of the same name. The website houses the pages of the institute’s policy centers, publishes the organization’s research and reports, and lists the events and debates hosted by the institute. The organization’s experts post regular articles addressing diverse urban issues and providing brief and quick insights from their research work. Published research reports and articles can be filtered by research area, policy center and author. Beyond scientific research, the institute’s work encompasses community projects that can be found under its In The Field section. Our favorite part of the website is definitely Data/ Viz and Features; providing easy access to the institute’s body of work and research through visualized data, interactive maps and graphs.
This Philadelphia-based website provides daily news covering topics of technology, culture, economics, infrastructure and politics that impact the urban scene in metropolitan regions around the world. Weekly in-depth stories, filed under features, present a more complete narrative about critical urban issues. The websites also maintains columns on subjects related to public health, public spaces, resilience, innovation and social justice. For easy access, the website has conveniently assembled its articles and stories by theme in e-books available for download. Members get special access to e-books and the website’s flagship event Vanguard. If you like Next City content, you can support them through a monthly contribution or contribute by pitching a story.
City Metric “takes complicated and technical ideas from the world of city planning, and makes them accessible to a mainstream audience.” The website articles focus on urban economics, policy, transportation, the built environment & innovation; and cover cities all over the globe. In addition, the website keeps a trending list of the most recurring topics. City Metric also produces biweekly podcasts where hosts Jonn Elledge, Stephanie Boland and guests discuss city politics and resilience. The Data Tools tab links to a page, provided by City Metric’s partner Centre for Cities, which allows users to download a variety of indicators from major UK cities.
A popular destination for urban planners, Planetizen curates news articles from a variety of outlets, but also publishes original posts in its exclusives section. The website provides resources to prospective students about educational planning programs in the U.S. and is famous for its list of top graduate urban planning schools. If you’ve already graduated from an accredited program, online courses are available for subscribers to prepare you for the AICP examination or to earn AICP CM credit. More resources for professionals include a list of current RFP and RFQ and events. Those seeking employment within the urban development sector can benefit from looking at the Planetizen job bank; offering opportunities in all professional areas and experience levels. In addition to planning schools, the website features annual reviews and rankings of books, apps, websites and twitter feeds providing insights into the ever changing trends and focus areas of urban and city planning.
The American Planning Association is the professional platform for urban and city planners in the United States. Its website reflects the resources made available for its members. Offerings range from e-learning programs, conferences and meetings to AICP certification, and a career center. The website also has dedicated sections to Policy and Advocacy and Community Outreach, where the association’s legislative priorities, policy and communication guides are shared with its members. More resources are also available about topics such as planning for kids, diversity and about the association initiatives and collaborations. You can stay up-to-date with APA news through the blog posts written regularly by the association members. APA is a member-supported organization, and you can become a member by picking one of the several association membership packages.
This is the website of the agency of the United Nations for Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development. The website reflects the broad operation and outreach of the organization, both geographically and thematically. Under Urban Initiatives, an overview of each of the Agency’s programs is available with a link leading to the program’s website. The Urban Knowledge section contains a wealth of resources on global urbanization. Our favorites are filed under Urban Data, Urban Lectures and Publications. If you want to read news on the UN-Habitat activities and events then click on Media Center. And if you want to locate one of their offices or search projects by location then check the Where We Are map. The UN-Habitat website is available in four of the official UN languages, in addition to English.
This resourceful website is the destination for all those looking for abundant documentation, case studies, and projects on the design of public spaces and placemaking. The website provides an overview of the projects and programs of the organization across the U.S. and internationally. News about the organization and its activities can be found on the blog, and are regularly updated. If you are passionate about public spaces then you can join one of their training events or conferences organized regularly in major cities around the world - or become a member of the Placemaking Leadership Council to work with like-minded individuals on creating livable spaces.
Let us know what you think of this year’s list. And follow the Top 20 Urban Planning websites on Twitter. We've created this handy list, just for you.
We would be happy to hear where you go to get your daily dose of urban news and your suggestions for additions to next year’s ranking. Think we missed a site? Add it to the comments section below and we'll ensure it's added to the running for next year. Finally, don’t forget to check our rankings from the past 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 years.