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The Tradition of Municipal Improvement

Another part of the planning tradition that emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century may loosely be called municipal improvement. Its origins are generally traced to the founding of an improvement society in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1853.8 The civic improvement movement grew rapidly, at first largely in New England and then nationally. In 1900

the National League of Improvement Associations was founded, to be supplanted two years later by the American League for Civic Improvement. The agenda for the hundreds of civic improvement organizations included diverse items like tree plantings, anti-billboard campaigns, paving of streets and sidewalks, provision of drinking fountains and public baths, provision of parks and recreational facilities, and numerous other public matters. The movement initiated a tradition of public concern with planning issues that was receptive to municipal and regional planning, and it continues in force to the present.

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