Publication Date

August 1997

Journal or Book Title

Planning History Studies: Journal of the Society of American City and Regional Planning Historians


Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward was one of the most influential books in the evolution of city planning as a profession and field of scholarly inquiry. And yet, upon the hundredth year of his death, this classic is rarely used when examining the roots of the profession. The paper begins by summarizing the book itself: on one level it is a simple novel of the Gilded Age; on another, it provided a vision of the future that indirectly has helped to guide the evolution of the American community. The paper examines the factors that are fundamental in planning and how Bellamy responded to them. His views on the environment, economic development, urban design, recreation, housing, and the urban community are explained and analyzed. Finally, his importance to the profession is assessed.


This author-created copy is reprinted by permission of Sage Publications, Inc.