Urban Planners Gather in Chicago

June 9, 2006

Chicago's diverse neighborhoods will be the backdrop for an urban planning conference that starts today.

Chicago is home to some of the country's biggest urban planning blunders and successes. Its history of racial segregation is legendary. At the same time, its community groups created innovative affordable housing.

Urban planners from around the world will gather here this weekend to study both sides of that heritage.

Researcher Chester Hartman says these planners approach the field with an eye toward social justice.

"The kind of planning that we do is to try to balance the forces that are bringing about urban change so that the costs and benefits are more fairly distributed," he says.

One topic of study: gentrifying communities like Pilsen, where apartments are quickly giving way to pricey condos. Activists there want to attract development without pricing residents out of the neighborhood.