The nineteenth century development of urban planning as a profession and academic discipline had its basis in public health initiatives, including the reform of tenement housing, the creation of urban water supply systems, the development of waste management infrastructures, and the building of greenbelt towns. These initiatives, designed to improve the quality of life of urban dwellers, reflect the common origins of the urban planning and public health professions in devising solutions for urban environmental problems.
Contemporary environmental challenges are once again uniting the fields of urban planning and public health. In the next 50 years, urban planners seeking to improve the quality of life for increasing numbers of urban residents throughout the world will grapple with major social, political, economic, and environmental issues that affect the physical and spatial structure of cities and the health of their residents.
In order to revive these joint professional efforts in the twenty-first century, urban planners and decision-makers will need a basis of knowledge in the histories, theories, methods, and tools of public health. Likewise, as the world’s population becomes increasingly urban, there will be a growing need for public health researchers and practitioners to understand and incorporate the histories, theories, methods, and tools of urban planning. Working together, scientists and professionals from urban planning and public health may better ensure that new communities are built and old communities are revitalized to be more egalitarian, sustainable, and ultimately, healthier for all residents.
Ecological complexity and disease vectors: Phenology and composition of urban mosquito communities in Baltimore