Jon A. Peterson, longtime member and friend of SACRPH, passed away on July 1st at Essex Meadows in Essex, Connecticut. Born in Columbus, Ohio, on September 21, 1935, he was the son of Alvah Peterson and Helen Hoff Peterson. A graduate of Upper Arlington High School, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with high honors from Swarthmore College, a Master of Arts degree in American History from Ohio State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard University, writing his dissertation under the direction of Professor Oscar Handlin.

He began his teaching career at Queens College of the City University of New York in 1966, retiring as professor emeritus in 2005. At Queens he served as director of the master’s degree program and as chair of the Queens College History Department, 1990-1994. Deeply interested in American urban history, he chaired the Columbia University Seminar on the City, 1973-1976.

Decades of intense scholarship on the origins of the American city planning movement culminated with The Birth of City Planning in the United States: 1840- 1917, which, among other accolades, was awarded the Spiro Kostof Book Award, 2005, from the Society of Architectural Historians. Throughout his career, he was active in professional organizations related to American, urban, landscape, and architectural history.

Jon had wide interests apart from his scholarship. When he retired, he returned to a lifelong interest in watercolor painting. He was an enthusiastic birder, an excellent photographer, an accomplished gardener, an avid hiker and traveler, focused especially on horticulture tours around the world. He had a special passion for Block Island, where in the 1990s he helped to create Whale Rock House, a beloved family property.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Jane (Eaker), daughter Sarah S. Peterson, son Andrew J. Peterson (Kathy Clark), and his brother David Peterson. Prior to moving to Essex, CT, in 2018, he and Mary Jane lived in Great Neck on Long Island for 48 years.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, August 4, at 3 pm in Hamilton Hall, Essex Meadows, Essex, CT. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations either to the Essex Meadows Scholarship Foundation or to the Block Island Nature Conservancy.


The Society for American City and Regional Planning History invites submissions for its biennial awards competition.  Please visit our SACRPH Awards Competition Announcement for more information about how to submit a nomination for the various awards and to find lists of all past winners.  The nomination deadline is August 1, 2023, for submissions to be considered for our 2023 awards.  Our 2021 award winners can be found here.

SACRPH presents awards for scholarship on North American city and regional planning history in several categories, including the Lewis Mumford Prize for best book, the John Reps Prize for best dissertation and master’s thesis, the Catherine Bauer-Wurster prize for best article, and the Journal of Planning History Prize for best article published in that journal. For this year’s competition, we consider work published in the past two years (that is, between August 1, 2021, and July 31, 2023). We also award the Laurence Gerckens Prize to an outstanding teacher-scholar who has demonstrated sustained excellence in scholarship, teaching, and leadership in the field of planning history.

SACRPH will consider the relevance of the following factors when evaluating nominations of written work (published articles and books, as well as completed dissertations and theses):

  • Centrality of city and regional planning history in a North American context (inclusive of internationally comparative and transnational work);
  • Innovation in building upon scholarship that has been central to SACRPH, while also showing where future research might go;
  • Significance in moving beyond analysis of a single case study alone to also offer insights into larger patterns and historical phenomena;
  • Appropriately attentive to issues of diversity and equity (or produces new understandings of previously examined processes by making diversity or equity central to the analysis); and,
  • Accessible, engaging, and high-quality writing.

In accepting an award, the prize winner indicates their willingness to serve on a prize committee in the following award cycle. 


This event has passed.

Historians of cities and the built environment are often trained, and can frequently be found teaching in, humanities departments such as history or art history. Equally often, however, they teach students pursuing a range of professional degrees—from city planning to architecture, public policy, education, and public health (among others). In this roundtable, a range of scholars who teach history in professional schools will reflect upon their experiences. In particular, they will consider the routes to arriving at such faculty positions, pedagogical decisions they have made in the classroom, the impact of a professional school setting upon their own research, and take-aways beyond the professional school classroom alone. Please join us if you are interested in learning more and joining the conversation!


Merlin Chowkwanyun, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Claire Dunning, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Ansley Erickson, Teachers College, Columbia University

Matthew Lasner, Architecture Divisions, California College of the Arts

Katie Marages, College of Environment + Design, University of Georgia


Francesca Russello Ammon, Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania


The leadership and members of SACRPH extend their sincere condolences to Eugenie L. Birch, founding member and past organization president, on the loss of her husband of 53 years, Robert Salisbury Birch, in early February 2022.  Bob grew up around the New York City stock market, and following his education, receiving first a degree in political science from Brown University and then an MBA at Cornell University, he engaged in a highly successful career on Wall Street spanning 55 years.  

Genie and Bob, generous in every possible manner, opened their home on Cape Cod to friends and colleagues from SACRPH. Bob was famous for giving houseguests a gift—a hat, bag, or shirt emblazoned with the family motto, “Melius suspendi est ut lupom quam ovem” – “Better be hung for a wolf than a sheep”. He was known for his skill and shrewdness at tennis and croquet, and one member of SACRPH experienced his croquet firsthand skills firsthand, remembering them as exemplary.

SACRPH has been the recipient of the generosity of the Birch family, with gifts that continue to support the activities of students and student travel to conferences, and endowed the David. P. Schuyler Fund.  The family has also supported the Bourne Conservation Trust on Cape Cod, an important land conservation group, speaking to their environmental concerns. Those who had the opportunity to meet Bob, including those who attended some of the SACRPH leadership retreats back in the early 2000s where he accompanied Genie, experienced his wit, joviality and engaging spirit.  We share in the Birch family remembrance of a life well lived.


The Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) is soliciting applications from a qualified individual or individuals to succeed Sonia Hirt as editor or coeditors of the refereed Journal of Planning History (JPH). The journal was developed in conjunction with SAGE Publishing under the aegis of SACRPH. It is distributed as a benefit of SACRPH membership and is available to thousands of institutions worldwide.

The editor(s) of the JPH will have the opportunity to shape the direction of research on city and regional planning history, both in the United States and around the globe. In addition, the editor is an ex-officio member of the SACRPH Board’s Executive Committee and attends Board of Directors meetings in conjunction with the SACRPH biennial fall conference and the Urban History Association’s conference in the alternate years.

The journal is published four times per year (February, May, August, November). SACRPH is negotiating a new contract with SAGE that will result in a larger online-only format, expanded length, new cover, and increased illustration possibilities. The new editor is expected to make the most of these changes and chart a concomitant new direction for the journal. Currently, an associate editor secures reviews of planning history publications. The new editor could expand or revise the ambit of the review section. The editor can also select members of the editorial board, with input from SACRPH leadership.

Under the SAGE agreement, the editor receives a $4,000 stipend annually from SAGE. SACRPH provides an additional $2,000 annually. The editor works closely with SAGE in preparing manuscripts, images, covers, reviews, and more for publication. Doing so includes soliciting double-blind external reviews; evaluating article submissions based upon those reviews and their judgment; making the final determination on acceptance; and ensuring authors adhere to the publication schedule set by SAGE, as well as anticipating and responding to issues with graphics, formatting, page counts, and the like. In some cases, the editor works with authors on revisions to bring an article to a publishable level. In addition, the editor travels to appropriate conferences to solicit manuscripts, works closely with SAGE to market the journal, and holds editorial advisory meetings.

The editor is able to draw upon the assistance of a large, diverse, and high-quality group of reviewers—including but not limited to a distinguished international advisory board of planning history scholars—who refer and review manuscripts and also contribute guidance on journal policy and content. It is expected that the editor’s institution will be able to further support the editor, both with mundane expenses and with staffing, typically by graduate students. SAGE does the copyediting, layout, typesetting, sales, and distribution. SAGE also offers an electronic submission system to assist the editor, authors, and reviewers.


We expect that the next editor(s) of the Journal of Planning History will:

  1. Be affiliated with an academic department (history, planning, urban studies, geography, architecture, American studies, etc.) that addresses the history of planning;
  2. Be established in the academic planning history community by virtue of contributions in teaching, research, and publication;
  3. Exhibit a broad understanding of planning history reflected through education, interests, and publications;
  4. Have sufficient and sustained institutional support over the full term of the editorship.

How to Apply

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the Search Committee chair for additional information.

To formally apply for this position, please email a letter to the Search Committee chair by March 31, 2022. The current chair, together with the SACRPH JPH Search Committee, will oversee the selection process, in consultation with the staff at SAGE. Names of applicants will be kept confidential. The committee’s recommendation will be voted on by the SACRPH Board, whose decision will be final. While the term of the editor has previously been open-ended, SACRPH may decide to limit the term, depending in part of the desires and qualifications of the applicants.

The letter of application should briefly address the following:

  • Reasons for seeking the position, and overall objectives as journal editor
  • A current C.V.
  • Names and complete contact information of at least two references per applicant
  • Evidence of institutional support, ideally a letter from an appropriate university or college administrative officer, outlining what support the institution may provide for the editor, whether through staffing, course releases, payment, or more.

The Search Committee intends to recommend the next editor(s) to the SACRPH Board by May 31, 2022, for a term to begin on or before July 1, 2022. The current editor, Dr. Sonia Hirt, will help acclimate the incoming editor(s).


Chair, JPH Search Committee

Timothy Mennel

Executive Editor, University of Chicago Press

1427 E. 60 St.

Chicago, IL 60637


Please note that the Press’s offices remain closed by the pandemic, so physical mail will not be received in a timely way.


Dani Giglia

Associate Editor

SAGE Publishing

2455 Teller Rd.

Thousand Oaks, CA 91320



Assistant or Associate Professor, History of the Built Environment

University of Pennsylvania: Weitzman School of Design: Weitzman School of Design – City and Regional Planning

Click Here for full Job Ad

Open Date

Sep 6, 2021


The Department of City & Regional Planning at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania welcomes applications for an Assistant or Associate Professor to offer masters- and doctoral-level instruction and advising in the cross-disciplinary area of the History of the Built Environment. Scholars whose research addresses the built environment though global or transnational urban history; the histories of race, ethnicity, and colonialism; the histories of gender and sexuality; and/or urban heritage are particularly welcome to apply.

This position was created as part of the Weitzman School’s new initiative in the History of the Built Environment, which focuses particularly on the urban or metropolitan scale. The Weitzman School includes Historic Preservation, City & Regional Planning, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Fine Arts. There is also the potential for secondary appointments with other departments across the University. This effort reflects collaborative work in urban, planning, landscape, and architectural history across the School and the larger University. It includes recruiting PhD students as Fellows in the History of the Built Environment. We also welcome the new faculty member to participate in the various research centers located at the School and University.

This position is a full-time tenure-track or tenured appointment with responsibilities for teaching, research, and administration. The successful candidate will be expected to teach lecture and seminar courses at the graduate level, including new courses in an area of specialization that suits the candidate’s research, and to advise masters and PhD students.


In their statement of interest, candidates should identify if/how their research and teaching interests connect with any of the concentrations in city planning and/or historic preservation.

Minimum qualifications: a PhD in history, American studies, history of science, city planning, historic preservation, architecture, urban studies, art history, geography, or another related field.

Candidates are encouraged to describe how underrepresented, diverse, and global perspectives are incorporated into their teaching and research. Applications from BIPOC and women candidates are strongly encouraged.

Application Instructions

Applicants should submit a statement of interest that succinctly describes their agenda for research and scholarship, a curriculum vitae, two recent publications or writing samples, a teaching statement, and the names and contact information for three references who will be contacted at a later date.

Applications should be addressed to Francesca Russello Ammon, Associate Professor, City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation; Chair, Search Committee for the History of the Built Environment.

Review of applications will begin on October 15, 2021 and will continue until the position is filled. The position will begin on July 1, 2022, and the selected candidate will be expected to begin teaching in fall 2022.

Questions should be directed to Kate Daniel, Department Coordinator, City & Regional Planning, at:


SACRPH announces its 2021 awards competition, including prizes for the best book, dissertation, and articles in North American city and regional planning. The Laurence Gerckens Prize is awarded to an outstanding teacher-scholar in the field. Nominations for these awards are due August 1. Please see the awards competition page for further details.


Contributed by Mary Corbin Sies, President of SACRPH in 1993-94

I am so sad to report the death of my fellow scholar, SACRPHer, colleague, and friend, David Schuyler (1950-2020). David died suddenly on July 24th, 2020, at Lancaster General Hospital. He was the Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of the Humanities and American Studies at Franklin & Marshall College; he taught there, sometimes chairing the American Studies department, for 41 years. David served as President of SACRPH during a period of precarity for the Society. He was awarded the Society’s prestigious Laurence C. Gerckens prize for extraordinary contributions to planning history education. He also served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Planning History for 12 years.

David was a prolific writer who lived for his scholarship in his later years, after his wife Marsha died of cancer in 2002. The New Urban Landscape: The Redefinition of City Form in Nineteenth-Century America (Johns Hopkins, 1986), Apostle of Taste: Andrew Jackson Downing 1815-1852(Johns Hopkins, 1996), and A City Transformed: Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1940-1980 (Penn State University Press, 2002), as well as the Creating the North American Landscape Series for the Johns Hopkins University Press, for which he long served as a consulting editor, all influenced and helped me to think about my own scholarship. But he was, perhaps, better known for two books about his beloved Hudson River landscapes: Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American Environmentalism (Cornell University Press, 2018), and Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909 (Cornell University Press, 2012). David was an expert on Frederick Law Olmsted and co-edited (with Charles Beveridge) four volumes of The Frederick Law Olmsted Papers. He also co-edited From Garden City to Green City: The Legacy of Ebenezer Howard (Johns Hopkins, 2002) and he published more than thirty articles in scholarly journals and books. This past year, David has been hard at work on an update and revision of A City Transformed. He also published a handsome historical account of the development of the Franklin & Marshall campus.

David’s career was also impressive for his dedication to service on behalf of historical commissions, sites, and boards. He served on and chaired the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Board, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and the National Advisory Committee of Olana, the Frederick E. Church house and grounds, a New York State Historical Site. In 2018, David was awarded the Olana Partnership’s prestigious Frederick Church Award which honors “individuals who, through their vision, commitment and grasp of creative trends, make extraordinary contributions to American culture.” The award ceremony in New York City, attended by David’s mentor Kenneth Jackson (Columbia University) and the President of Franklin & Marshall College, was a highlight of his illustrious career. David was the recipient of several awards for teaching, book projects, and his general body of scholarship.

As “Professor Schuyler,” David was much beloved by his students. He adored the small liberal arts college atmosphere of Franklin & Marshall and living walking distance to campus. He sent a few students he mentored to graduate school and I was fortunate to work with two of them. David believed in getting students involved in the archive and centering classes on projects that engaged his students as generators of knowledge. He delighted in enlisting (and paying) students as researchers for his scholarly projects and encouraging them to develop online exhibitions as class projects.

David was famous for mentoring grad students and scholars just entering the profession. He met us at conferences, usually by listening to us give our first scholarly talks. He gave many of us a leg up into the profession, soliciting manuscripts for his book series, coaching us to finish and polish publications, putting us in touch with other experts or archival collections, and helping to warmly welcome us into scholarly conversations. I was one of his mentees; we met at an OAH conference in the mid-1980s. He, along with two other historians—Michael Ebner and Mark H. Rose—were the first professors outside of my university to pay attention to my work and I owe them a huge debt for encouraging my scholarship and modeling how to welcome and mentor new and emerging scholars. Over the years David and I developed a friendship, demonstrating that there could be genuine friendships in the competitive environments of academe! We were part of the group the SACRPHers that helped to shepherd the Society in its second phase of development, after SACRPH’s founder Larry Gerckens stepped down as Executive Secretary and following Genie Birch and Chris Silver’s presidencies. Several of us gathered in Castine, Maine for a few years for summer workshops focused on getting SACRPH business completed and planning the biennial meetings. The photograph (by Chris Stark) shows me, David, Domenic Vitiello, and Isabel and Chris Silver attending the Fourth of July parade in Castine during one of these SACRPH ‘rump parliaments’.

I am heartbroken that my dear friend is gone. Rest in peace, David, and thank you for helping me and so many other young professionals find our way in academe and making it a sometimes humane place to dwell.

Mary Corbin Sies, Isabel Silver, David Schuyler, Chris Silver, and Domenic Vitello


Historically, human societies have isolated outsiders and transgressors to defend themselves against perceived danger. Occasionally, we have isolated ourselves to protect others. The locales in which we have performed isolation range from elaborate complexes and stately edifices to prosaic makeshift shelters. Places of isolation, detention, and quarantine reveal often unspoken truths about the states and the societies that created them. This issue will explore the ways in which communities have preserved and remembered the liminal sites they once designed to tame and physically contain their fears.

Some places of isolation are meant to be temporary, ad-hoc responses to a single emergency. Others are carefully planned and permanent fixtures of a carceral landscape. All are shaped and reshaped by circumstance, by material exigencies, and by social, political, and cultural imperatives. What many of these sites share is a tacit collective shame: they are remembered at best as necessary evils, and at worst as monuments to inhumanity. Fortresses of the West African slave trade such as Elmina Castle on the Ghanaian coast bear witness to centuries of brutal commerce in human beings. Old prisons have been preserved as museums all over the world, from Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay to Tuol Sleng in Cambodia. Some prison camps, like Robben Island in South Africa and Devil’s Island in French Guiana, specialized in political prisoners or notorious offenders. California’s Manzanar and Tule Lake, along with eight other U.S. sites, interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. Archipelagos of refugee camps like Jenin, Jabalia, and Shatila, arose to shelter Palestinians fleeing Israeli occupation, and similar camps continue to spring up in response to waves of emigration and emergency flight after the Syrian civil war and other crises. None of these sites provokes feelings of pride.

 Other places of detention and isolation have had explicitly therapeutic purposes, including psychiatric asylums, leprosaria, lazarettoes and other quarantine facilities. Their aims have varied through space and time, but their caregiving role never superseded their fundamentally carceral function. They existed to separate the actually or potentially sick from the healthy. Their commemoration has rarely been celebratory.

We seek explorations, accounts, and analyses that go beyond mere celebration or condemnation in search of a fuller understanding of the sites and the contexts in which they took shape. We welcome contributions from all chronological and geographical contexts investigating the origin, design, function, and preservation of places of detention, isolation, and quarantine. We particularly invite articles that engage with the following questions:

  • How did this institution arise?
  • Why was this site chosen? What prompted that society to require spatial isolation at that time?
  • How do qualities of the site reflect the nature of detention, isolation, or quarantine?
  • How does the architecture of the site speak to its function?
  • How was the site used, and what does its function reveal about the society and culture that produced it?
  • How can the site or institution speak to twenty-first-century concerns about public safety, risk, contagion, and health?
  • What is the current state of the site, and what efforts have been made to preserve it?
  • Has there been contestation over the purpose of the institution, its efficacy, or its preservation?
  • How do visitors interact with the site today?
  • How does the space express particular conceptions of separation, difference, and danger reflective of the society and the era from which it emerged?

Submissions may include, but are not limited to, case studies, theoretical explorations, and evaluations of current practices or interventions. We are especially interested in papers that situate preservation practice in a larger social, cultural, and political context.

Abstracts of 200-300 words are due 15 September 2020. Authors will be notified of provisional paper acceptance by mid-October 2020. Final manuscript submissions will be due mid-March 2021.


Articles are generally restricted to 7,500 or fewer words (the approximate equivalent to thirty pages of double-spaced, twelve-point type) and may include up to ten images. See Author Guidelines for full details at, or email Managing Editor, Kecia Fong at for further information.


Dear SACRPH members:

Black Lives Matter. We write today to stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, friends, family members, and community members to condemn in the strongest possible terms the racialized policing that led to the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We mourn their senseless deaths, and the loss of three more lives, cut short in their prime. America is lessened through their absence, through the horror of these murders. As scholars of cities and urban spaces, we know all too well how these recent atrocities fit into the long history of white supremacy and anti-Black racism in the American experience.

The struggle against racism figures in SACRPH’s mission. We renew our determination to be an antiracist organization and to fight injustice everywhere we see it. We are already thinking carefully about the composition of our leadership and will actively recruit more diverse voices to the table. We have worked to build supportive networks between SACRPH members and we will think about how we can continue to expand our efforts and do so in ways that are more accessible to all. We will institutionalize more support for underrepresented scholars and graduate students.

Any organization is only as progressive as its members – and in this we are enormously lucky. We are proud of the work each of our members does, and we want to amplify and support the work that will dismantle the gross inequality we see around us.

As always, we welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and critiques.
Marta Gutman, Nancy Kwak, and Brad Hunt
Future, present, and past presidents of SACRPH