Taubman College Professor Robert Fishman discusses national planning for the future on PBS

On January 8, 2010, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning Professor Robert Fishman was featured on the PBS online series Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City along with his paper entitled “1808—1908—2008: National Planning for America.”

In his paper, Fishman’s argument for the idea of American national planning is stressed. He writes, “National planning in this country is widely believed to be an un-American activity…[yet] I would argue that no other nation has been so profoundly planned as the United States.”

Fishman’s research highlights the “two great ‘campaigns’ of national planning” that, according to him, have drastically revolutionized America: “the 1808 ‘Gallatin Plan’ of roads and canals whose themes guided long-term federal policy through the 19th century,” as well as “Theodore Roosevelt’s 1908 set of conservation and transportation initiatives that guided the 20th century.”

Raising questions of the value and power in our tradition of national planning and what we can do to shape the future with our achievements of the past—particularly of 1808 and 1908—Fishman identifies important issues on the subject of revitalization, including our nation’s past “inevitable constraints” with planning. Despite these difficulties, he argues, the United States succeeded in crafting “national plans whose visions have had the galvanizing power to coordinate action over the long term.”

Fishman will also be featured in a televised interview in Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City on Feb. 8 at 10 p.m. on PBS in the MidWest.

To read Fishman’s paper and find out more about contemporary views on urban American infrastructure, please visit here.