9 Science: City Planning

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 7.35.53 PM.pngPreparation:

Familiarize yourself with this article:  Smithsonian

Today’s Washington, D.C. owes much of its unique design to Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who came to America from France to fight in the Revolutionary War and rose from obscurity to become a trusted city planner for George Washington. L’Enfant designed the city from scratch, envisioning a grand capital of wide avenues, public squares and inspiring buildings in what was then a district of hills, forests, marshes and plantations.

The centerpiece of L’Enfant’s plan was a great “public walk.” Today’s National Mall is a wide, straight strip of grass and trees that stretches for two miles, from Capitol Hill to the Potomac River. Smithsonian museums flank both sides and war memorials are embedded among the famous monuments to Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson.

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 7.49.17 AM.png

Ask your students to draw a simple version of their city here.  It is important to draw it in the book first because it will help them focus and will be a reminder of their city in the future.


  • Blue construction paper for rivers
  • Giant graph paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Caps for circles
  • Rulers

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George Washington asked Peter L’Enfante to design 100 square miles into what is now Washington, D.C.  L’Enfante created circles and squares that were positioned to best protect the city from cannon fire.  The circles are rather difficult for drivers now, but they made perfect sense at the time. 

L’Enfante created a grid for the heart of Washington, D.C.  Each horizontal street is a number and each vertical street is a letter.  He did not include J street, because he did not care for John Jay, a Supreme Court Justice,  and did not wish to honor him even with a letter.   Will you choose a grid for the streets of your city?

  1. Discuss with your students the necessity of thinking as far into the future as possible. 
    1. Do you think air traffic will expand? 
    2. Do you think more or less people will be commuting to work in the future? 
    3. How do you think people will shop in the future?
  2. Help students categorize the needs of their city and how they will place them. 
    1. public works requirements (police, schools, water, electricity, jail, courthouse, fire stations, public buildings, social services…)
    2. entertainment (baseball fields… do you really need any thing else?)
    3. churches
    4. housing (types of housing)
    5. places to work

Each blueprint must include as many of the following as possible:

  1. The Scale of the Map
  2. Compass Rose
  3. One River
  4. One Lake
  5. Single family homes
  6. Apartments
  7. Grocery Stores
  8. Retail Stores
  9. Entertainment
  10. Police Station
  11. Fire Department
  12. Electric Plants
  13. Water Systems
  14. Office Buildings
  15. Hospital
  16. Natural Care Center with Homeopathy
  17. Roads
  18. Airport
  19. Train Station
  20. Green Spaces



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