Edmund Bacon’s work followed a period of unprecedented urban expansion
and modernization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when
the fundamental nature of cities, Philadelphia included, had changed. The
concept of urban design emerged in the late 1940s as a way for the profes-
sional apparatus of architecture better to address these changes. As the direc-
tor of Philadelphia’s Planning Commission, and later as the author of Design of
Cities, Bacon played a seminal role in establishing urban design as both a
discipline and an actor in the shaping of cities in the mid-twentieth century.