Planning for smaller legacy cites requires creativity in thinking about future land use and sensitivity in respecting the needs and desires of current residents.

“Planning in America’s Legacy Cities: Toward Better, Smaller Communities after Decline,” by Margaret Dewar and Hunter Morrison, explores the unique challenges facing planners in cities with declining populations. This paper appears as a chapter in the volume Rebuilding America’s Legacy Cities: New Directions for the Industrial Heartland, which was edited Alan Mallach and published by the American Assembly.

Given the land use, equity, and demographic challenges facing legacy cities, the authors suggest that planners in these communities need to take on a different role than their peers in growing places. Legacy city planners should be managing community change instead of planning for development. Improving quality of life for existing residents should be the key goal, with considerably less time spent on trying to guide new growth.