In the Public Interest: The Life and Work of Regional Planning Pioneer Ladislas Segoe (1894–1983)

city plan drawing

From 1921 through 1968, the career of Cincinnati-based Ladislas Segoe (1894–1983) paralleled the evolution of planning. Frequently instrumental in the development and perfection of American planning practice, he was involved in all levels and nearly all fields of planning. Through his widespread and successful consulting work, his publishing and his speaking, Segoe was a tireless advocate of independent, professional planning. Despite the Depression, World War II, the problems of urban renewal in the 1950s, and civic unrest in the 1960s, he maintained a successful planning practice. That success was due to the strength of his personality, the coherence of his vision of planning as an encompassing process, his conscientious follow-through, and his insistence that planners be responsible, reasonable, and honest professionals. He was one of the earliest city planning consultants in the U.S. and advocated throughout his career for the increased presence of private planning firms. Segoe is one of only 83 individuals who has been named a National Planning Pioneer by the American Planning Association.

In his long and distinguished career, Segoe:

  • Prepared the first comprehensive plan for a major American city — Cincinnati, Ohio — in 1925, which included Northern Kentucky and was a forerunner of regional planning;
  • Along with Alfred Bettman and John Blandford of the Bureau of Government Research, prepared the first municipal capital budget in the U.S.;
  • Wrote with Bettman in 1928 the Standard City Planning Enabling Act;
  • In 1931, first used the concept of an urban growth boundary for Lexington, Kentucky to control urban physical expansion. He thereby foresaw urban sprawl and paved the way for the most famous application of the growth boundary in Portland, Oregon more than a half century later;
  • Headed the research staff that wrote Our Cities: Their Role in the National Economy in 1937 a landmark report of the Urbanism Committee of the National Resources Committee and the first federal comprehensive study of the nation's urban problems; and
  • Wrote in 1941 what is now known as Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice for ICMA.

This exhibition considers Segoe's work in a number of eras paralleling the development of American planning, displaying manuscripts from the rare book libraries of University of Cincinnati, Cornell University, and Segoe's papers.

The exhibition is funded primarily by the Ladislas and Vilma Segoe Family Foundation.

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