Real Estate

Must-read books about cities written by women

As someone who writes about cities, I end up reading a lot of books about how the places we live have formed, grown, and changed. But it wasn’t until I was four-fifths of the way through a stack on my nightstand when I realized something else about the books I read about cities—nearly all of them are written by men.

After writing a story about how urbanist discourse often shuts out women’s voices, both in print and online, I put out the call for books about cities written by people who do not identify as men. The list you see here is not meant to be a definitive or complete list of the contributions of women urbanists, but a collection of essential perspectives on topics where women have much to contribute.

If you’re looking for a refreshing take on the way gender shapes our urban neighborhoods, or a comprehensive history of how inequity is engrained in our transportation systems, you’ll find it here. Enjoy, peruse our list of 101 books about cities for more women-authored titles, and share your own selections in the comments.

Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism by Rebecca Solnit

Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin

How Women Saved the City by Daphne Spain

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin

Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City by Amanda Kolson Hurley

The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo by Saskia Sassen

Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistance by Adonia Lugo

A Black Urbanist by Kristen Jeffers

Our Towns: A 10,000-Mile Journey to the Heart of America by Deborah and James Fallows

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work and Family Life by Dolores Hayden

Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-Made Environment by Leslie Weisman

Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City by Mary Pattillo

Modern Housing for America: Policy Struggles in the New Deal Era by Gail Radford

Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities by Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow

Sex and the Revitalized City: Gender, Condominium Development, and Urban Citizenship by Leslie Kahn

Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation over Public Space by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Renia Ehrenfeucht

Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for Multicultural Cities by Leonie Sandercock

The Just City by Susan S. Fainstein

A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity by Japonica Brown-Saracino

Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design by Bess Williamson

Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson

The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Moore

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