Lincoln Institute

This history of human settlements is a story of continuous growth and increasing urban densities that reduce per capita resource consumption among the successfully urbanizing countries and decreasing net densities among those who do not have an urban agenda.  

The summary omits Africa in this context. It is a glaring omission of the summary, but it is covered well elsewhere.

The new Lincoln Institute report Making Room for a Planet of Cities should have “With informal cities everywhere else” as the tag line.  (Read Decline of Density Chap.2) The rapidly urbanizing world needs a better analysis, so four data sets are offered to help:

  1. A global sample of 120 cities with 100,000 people via satellite;
  2. Population density data for 20 U. S. cities, 1910-2000, based on census tracts;
  3. Built-up sample of 30 cities, 1800-2000, from 120 cities using historical city maps;
  4. Urban land cover (3,646 cities of 100,000 or more in 2000, based on satellite


  • Densities in developing countries are double Europe and Japan.  Densities in Europe and Japan are double those of the United States, Canada, and Australia.  The growth rate of urban land cover was twice that of the urban population in 1990 and 2000.
  • The urban population of the developing countries is expected to double between 2000 and 2030. The nations of the world are largely ignorant of the impacts or cannot act on the implications.
  • The data, images, metrics, and methodology from Making Room for a Planet of Cities are available in an accompanying sub-center, the Atlas of Urban Expansion, in the Databases section of Resources & Tools at the Lincoln Institute Web site.