The central role of cities in economic development is widely recognised. Many scholars have dealt with this topic from the point of view of economic history, sociology, anthropology, urban planning, geography, and economic theory, both from a micro and from a macro perspective. Our aim in this chapter is to analyse theories of urban planning after the Second World War, conceived as a means to foster economic and social development in less developed countries. More speciﬁcally, we will focus on urban and economic planning in Latin America and will describe the role of three outstanding ﬁgures in the development of Latin American cities, in particular of the Colombian capital Bogotá: the urban planners Paul L. Wiener and José L. Sert, and the economist Lauchlin B. Currie. The stature of the individuals involved, the broad vision they brought to the task, and the role of Latin America in the international political and economic scenario make this case particularly meaningful for the analysis of post-war development policies. Through the use of archival material from the Wiener, Sert, and Currie
collections, it has been possible to sketch the relations among the three advisers and their approach to Latin American urban problems. Not unexpectedly, their reﬂections show the importance of blending political economy, sociology, and urban planning analysis. Our reconstruction of their activities, in turn, crosses borders between economic history, urban planning analysis, and the history of economic ideas – an approach that, we believe, can oﬀer useful insights to development studies. Moreover, the use of archival material has made it possible to highlight the
evolution of the three advisers’ thought. Wiener and Sert progressively softened their initial dogmatic positions and adapted them to the reality of the existing urban environment.1 Lauchlin Currie built his proposals for the urban planning of Bogotá on his previous experience regarding the smaller Colombian city of Barranquilla, and subsequently changed some of his ideas in light of the experience accumulated in these two cases. These modiﬁcations, we think, are very important features of the actual process of urban and economic advising, and only historical reconstruction can put the right emphasis on them. The chapter is organised as follows. The next section will brieﬂy describe
the origins of the new interest in the economic and urban development of
Latin America after World War II. The third section will discuss Wiener and Sert’s trip to Latin America, and the beginning of their urban planning project in the region. The fourth will conduct the same kind of inquiry, this time applied to the interests of a development economist, Lauchlin Currie. The ﬁfth section will examine the interconnections and linkages between the two urban planners and Lauchlin Currie in the development of urban and economic plans for the city of Bogotá. The following section will include reﬂections on the relations and convergence between urban design and economic perspectives on urban planning in the work of Currie and Sert, subsequent to their collaboration in the early 1950s. Finally we oﬀer some concluding remarks.
One of the main features of the era that began after the end of the Second World War was the growing importance of development issues. This, of course, was due to the demise of the colonial empires and the birth of numerous new countries with speciﬁc problems of economic and social backwardness. Their economies, until then studied only as a function of metropolitan countries (Meier and Seers 1984), became the speciﬁc object of a new academic subdiscipline – development economics. Above all, increasing international tensions, culminating in the Cold War and in Truman’s containment strategy, ‘made the fate of the underdeveloped countries a matter of foreign policy concern in the developed countries’ (Myrdal 1968: 8). A distinguished development economist and adviser to various US federal
administrations of those years – Walt W. Rostow – made this concept explicit in his best-known book, The Stages of Economic Growth: