top of page

Revisiting the Charter of the New Urbanism

CNU Midwest recently held a strategic planning session in Youngstown, Ohio. In the upcoming months, you will see the results of that endeavor. The occasion gave the editors of this blog the opportunity to re-read the Charter of the New Urbanism. If New Urbanism truly is a congress, then the Charter is our Constitution.

The Charter is a set of principles worthy of rediscovery. It is clearly declarative, well-organized, and powerful. At only 1150 words, it is also brief. It was written over 25 years ago yet it is poignantly current.

It was written by a small group of architects, planners, and other agitators who were frustrated that creating new pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods worthy of pride was illegal in most of the United States.

We won’t reprint the entire Charter here but we wanted to highlight the Preamble. To see the full Charter go HERE.

If you haven’t already, you should buy the book. The table contents alone says more than most other policy and planning books say from cover to cover. After the Preamble, which is re-printed below, the Charter lists 27 principles categorized by geography.



The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

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.

We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.

We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.

We represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, community activists, and multidisciplinary professionals. We are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design.

We dedicate ourselves to reclaiming our homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment.

bottom of page