It’s that time of year again! The Grid searched far and wide through the web to compile a list of the Top 20 Websites for Urban Planners. This is our third year running this series and thanks to input from our readers, we’ve added new names to the list. Next City and Congress for New Urbanism return from the 2012 list after being absent in 2013, while CityLab and the Urban Institute are new members. Many returning websites from our 2012 and 2013 appear as well, but with different rankings. These were determined using Alexa Analytics, which helped us find the most visited URLs. You’ll find a blend of sources ranging from online magazines, to non-profits and non-partisan research firms. We welcome you to discover where city planners are keeping themselves informed on urban affairs.
The top ranked site on this year’s list may also be the quirkiest of the bunch. After not even making the Top 20 in 2012, Grist came out and entered the scene at number two in 2013 - and has claimed top honors this year. Grist adds a sense of humor to every story it covers, no matter how morbid it may be. But that style must be working, because the site reaches over two million people per month and encourages people to take action on the issues it covers. Check out their latest news on gristmill and follow the gristlist for the coolest and/or cutest stories you’ll find on the web, or at least those that cover urban planning and climate change. If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, send a query or your portfolio for opportunities to have your work published on the site. You can also promote Grist content by adding an RSS feed or reprinting content.
Surprisingly, CityLab did not rank anywhere on our 2012 or 2013 lists, despite being one of the most popular resources on urbanism. The site launched in 2011, entitled “The Atlantic Cities,” but relaunched in May 2014 with the new name and an “expanded editorial mission.” A project of The Atlantic, CityLab is chock full of resources that cover a variety of sectors in the field. Make sure to check out The Navigator, known as The Modern Urbanist’s Guide to Life, to give you the how-to for city living. Take a look at CityFixer and read about solutions for improving urban life, as well as their galleries of maps, photos and videos. If you have a story idea for CityLab, go to their FAQ page to learn how to pitch a story.
For all things connected to commuting and mobility, Streetsblog is the go-to source. Going strong since 2006, the site now has chapters in cities throughout the U.S., providing valuable information on “sustainable transportation and livable communities” for its readers. A project of OpenPlans, the site is funded through grants, sponsorships, advertisements, and donations from readers. Streetsblog has steadily worked its way up our rankings, listed number 12 in 2012 and number four in 2013. Click through their posts and learn about the initiatives they’re taking on, including their latest project, Vision Zero. Suggest a blog for their Streetsblog Network by clicking here! If you’re looking for work, scroll through their Jobs Board, or post a position for a small fee. Catch a flick on Streetfilms – or listen to their podcast.
After being ranked number six in both the 2012 and 2013 lists, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) has claimed the number four spot this year. The membership-based non-profit is the source for all that is land use and has chapters in cities around the world that connect people through valuable programs and events. This internationally acclaimed organization conducts research in an array of fields, ranging from housing and transit, to economics and climate adaptation. Learn about about their work in their amazing publications, which include the Urban Land Magazine, videos and case studies, to name a few. If you want complete access to these resources, become a member through your local council. And make sure to scroll their Career Center for career opportunities!
Not to be confused with the Urban Land Institute, the Urban Institute (UI) is a nonpartisan think tank that works on economic and social policy research. The site appeared on our 2013 Top 20 Sites for City Builders, ranked number four, but we thought it was more than suitable for listing in this 2014 ranking. The organization formed in 1968 under President Johnson as a center where civic leaders could work on urban issues. Browse the site by topic, but make sure to check out their Cities and Neighborhoods section for planning-specific information. They have several upcoming events on their calendar and are working on various projects you must look into. UI’s handy toolkit helps users explore the most relevant issues. And if you really like what you see, apply for a job at UI!
After not even making our 2012 list, Newgeography.com came out of nowhere to claim the number three spot in 2013 and has held a solid ranking this year. A joint venture of Joel Kotkin and Praxis Strategy Group, the site looks into ways we can best adapt to the changes and growth taking place in our communities. Amongst the numerous features, readers may find the Best Cities for Jobs 2014 helpful. In addition to the fascinating stories, which cover both urban and suburban topics, the site also has a great blog. If you like what you’re seeing, create an account on NewGeography.com and become a contributing blogger!
Sustainable Cities Collective posts blogs from just about every urban news source you can imagine. Whether it be design, planning, resources, economy or transport, you name it and they have it. The site ranked high at number two in 2012 and then dropped to number seven in 2013, but has gone on to hold that position this year. Sustainable Cities Collective is an editorial independent site that aggregates content and provides resources for those interested in urbanism. Not only does the site provide excellent posts from bloggers around the world, but you can participate in webcasts led by leaders in the urban planning field. If you’re a writer, read their how-to guide so you can get your content up and running! Finally, stay updated with the latest news by signing up for their e-newsletter.
Planetizen has dropped a bit on our list over the past two years, after claiming the number one spot in 2012 and then number five in 2013. That goes to show how competitive these rankings have become. The site posts news from a variety of sources and offers provocative blogs on urban planning and land use topics. If you want to advance yourself in the field, scroll through their list of courses, schools and jobs. There’s so much to see on the site, but the best way to get involved with Planetizen is to create an account, which will allow you to track your news submissions and engage with your readers.
Next City ranked number 10 on our 2012 list when it was called The Next American City, but was mysteriously absent from our 2013 list. Well, the non-profit organization has returned with a higher ranking and some new features. The online publication began in 2003 as a quarterly magazine, but has grown to be an influential resource covering the areas of civic tech, culture and livability, economic development, infrastructure and politics and policy. If you’d like to read longer articles, subscribe to their Forefront series for a small annual fee. But there’s more! Read these stories on the go by downloading the Forefront App and keep yourself up-to-date on the latest trends that are reshaping our cities. For all you writers, pitch a story to the staff and get your work featured in the fast-growing digital magazine.
Rounding out our top 10 is UN-Habitat, a program of the United Nations that promotes effective urban planning in cities throughout the globe. The site ranked number three in 2012 and number nine in 2013, but despite dropping down the list, it still remains a premiere resource in the field. The institution was mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1978 to address the issues of urban growth. UN-Habitat covers 14 different themes and takes on multiple initiatives to help cities grow responsibly. You can find helpful resources in the Urban Knowledge section and special gatherings on their events page. There are several ways to support the organization, whether it be through jobs, internships, consultancy activities or expression of interests.
The following didn’t quite make our top 10, but you’ll likely recognize these popular sites:
We hope you find this list helpful. But we want to hear from you! Provide your feedback in the comments section below and let us know if we missed any sites. And be sure to add your suggestions for inclusion in 2015’s list.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.