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Founded in 1993, New Urbanism is a movement united around the belief that our physical environment has a direct impact on our chances for happy, prosperous lives. New Urbanists believe that well-designed cities, towns, neighborhoods, and public places help create community: healthy places for people and businesses to thrive and prosper.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of urban designers, architects, planners, developers, and engineers were frustrated with prevailing development patterns, which focused more on building dispersed housing far from traditional downtowns and Main Streets. Meanwhile, inside cities, urban renewal was destroying the fabric of historic neighborhoods and isolating once-stable communities.
As cities continued to decline, a coalition of urban designers, architects, planners, developers, and engineers coalesced to create New Urbanism—a movement for reinvestment in design, community, and place. Their values, and the core principles of their work, are articulated in the Charter of the New Urbanism:
We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy.
Over the past 30 years, the New Urbanist movement has changed the conversation from debating the alternative forms of development to discussing how best to preserve, design, develop, and restore our regions, cities, and neighborhoods. New Urbanists have been responsible for creating and popularizing many now-common development patterns and strategies, including mixed-use development, transit-oriented development, traditional neighborhood design, integrating design standards into affordable housing, and designing complete and beautiful streets.
As momentum for mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods has grown, New Urbanists have risen to the challenge of building on past successes, establishing new design and development standards, and accelerating the pace of change.
In 2023, the Congress for the New Urbanism is celebrating its 30th anniversary! That's thirty years of championing walkable urbanism and thirty years of our premiere national event on building better places. Senior Communications Advisor Rob Steuteville gives a brief history of the annual Congress and the New Urbanist movement: