Postwar city planning in Philadelphia: Edmund N. Bacon and the design of Washington Square East

1991 1991

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Abstract (summary)

Postwar city planning in the United States focused on reviving neglected urban centers and older neighborhoods. In Philadelphia, the city planning commission (PCPC) was directed by Edmund N. Bacon, who was trained as an architect and functioned as both an urban designer and a planning administrator. Bacon's ability to carry out his vision for the redevelopment of Washington Square East (WSE) was related to his personal involvement in the design process, and his official position within Philadelphia's city government. As a designer and Executive Director of the PCPC, Bacon was in a unique position to formulate a number of redevelopment projects, influence the evolution of the plans through various stages of the design process, and oversee the actual construction. The success of WSE was the result of many factors--Philadelphia's political reform in the early-1950s, the backing of members of the city's financial and business communities, and Bacon's own on-going policy to engage in a public dialogue in order to establish a wide base of support for his projects. But, in the end, it was Bacon's skill and determination in manipulating opportunities and circumstances toward his particular goals, that shaped the plan and the course of the redevelopment of WSE (and the city). Few postwar urban renewal projects were based so completely on a series of plans which, in addition to their intrinsic worth as urban designs, promoted the project by providing the public, politicians, business leaders and real estate developers, with visible (and understandable) solutions to complex urban problems. WSE was an important example of the power of urban design to serve as the key element in an overall strategy for the city's physical and economic recovery. Bacon's approach to city planning formed the basis of Philadelphia's postwar redevelopment program and, in turn, his success as an urban designer and administrator was central to his philosophy of city planning.

Indexing (details)

Art History;
Urban planning;
Area planning & development
0729: Architecture
0377: Art History
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Bacon, Edmund N.@; Pennsylvania
Postwar city planning in Philadelphia: Edmund N. Bacon and the design of Washington Square East
Cohen, Madeline L.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 52/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Brownlee, David B.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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