Urban ailments

From the Roaring ’20s to the New Deal era, planners, civic leaders and other reformers diagnosed urban ailments and prescribed new interventions to treat them.

A new exhibition of items drawn from the library’s architecture and city planning collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) explores these problems and solutions. It runs until June 8 on the first floor of West Sibley Hall.

Among RMC's extensive collections are papers from about 150 prominent planners and dozens of architects. The exhibition, which features designs implemented from 1920 to 1940, explores the responses of the then-young planning profession to the debilitating effects of congestion and sprawl, the negative aspects of automobiles and a growing demand for improvements to mobility, safety and parking. The plans, drawings, photographs, promotional materials and other documents in the exhibit show planners’ ideas for urban zoning and parking, regional transit and planning and new suburban towns for the motor age.

RMC and the Department of City and Regional Planning cosponsored the exhibition, organized by Jennifer Minner, assistant professor, and Liz Muller, assistant director and curator of media and digital collections.