7 Urban Planning YouTube Channels You Need to Follow Immediately

Many of our readers visit Columbus Underground daily for updates on urban development and transportation. These topics have been front and center for more than 20 years here, as our city has rapidly grown and evolved to meet the changing needs of our residents. As we look to the future of Columbus, it is often considered good practice to study the successes, failures and trends of city planning from around the world, and we have found no such shortage. information on the Internet.

On YouTube in particular, there are many great channels and hosts that cover these topics in an educational and entertaining way. We’ve rounded up seven different channels worth following, along with short descriptions and a good starter video to acclimate you to the tone of each channel. Be sure to follow the ones you like and leave a comment below if there are more channels we left out of this list.

City Beautiful

Dave Amos has been making YouTube videos under the City Beautiful brand since 2016, and it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about it. With master’s and doctorate degrees in community and regional planning, Amos has devoted countless hours to studying how we build our public spaces and how we could continue to build them better. And one of the things that makes City Beautiful videos so accessible is their 8-12 minute runtime.

Many of these videos cover popular planning and transportation topics, including zoning, suburban sprawl, city stadiums, and public transportation. The most popular City Beautiful video to date (with over 5.7 million views) is a deep dive into the troubles of Gary, Indiana, which was labeled “America’s Most Miserable Town” in 2019 .

A great video introduction to City Beautiful is a recent entry called “Are NIMBYs Selfish?”. The thumbnail may look a bit like a clickbait, but Amos dives into the data on how NIMBY-style opposition to denser development can have detrimental effects on a city’s climate and economy.

Climate City

Rollie Williams’ Climate Town is a newer YouTube channel with only a handful of videos (15 at the time of publication) produced over the past year. What the channel lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, as the videos are incredibly well produced while packed with data and humor.

Williams tackles big topics related to climate change and effectively balances dark and depressing data with plenty of fast-paced humor, not unlike John Oliver’s approach with Last Week Tonight. His most popular video to date, “Fast Fashion Is Hot Garbage,” has over 1.2 million views, and despite featuring some gargantuan-sized issues, he knows how to keep the viewer engaged and uplifted knowing that change is always possible.

“I know this scenario has been super super bleak so far, but we’ve officially entered the ‘We’ve got a way out’ phase,” he says while stepping away from the mention of rights violations. of human and child labor exploitation that many big fashion brands use unregulated outsourced manufacturers on the other side of the world.

The Climate Town videos are a little longer, most are around 18-23 minutes in viewing time, but you’ll get through them thanks to the comedy. A good place to start is “Suburbs Are Bleeding America Dry,” embedded below.

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Not just bikes

As the name suggests, Not Just Bikes is a YouTube channel that’s not just about bikes. But at the same time, a lot of videos are about cycling. Since 2019, Jason Slaughter has been documenting cycling, walking, transportation, and urbanism primarily in regards to his experiences in his home country of Canada and his current home in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The most popular Not Just Bikes video (at the time of this article’s publication) is titled “Why Dutch bikes are better (and why you should want one)” with 3.5 million views, and it boasts the value of a highly functional bike designed for commuters. There’s actually a “short” 47-second video posted on Not Just Bikes with over 6.3 million views, which is a great example of the mix of content types you’ll find on the channel.

A great video to cut your teeth at Not Just Bikes is the in-depth look at “Strroads” in the video titled “The Ugly, Dangerous, and Inefficient Stroads found all over the US & Canada”. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, just consider one of our wide, fast and dangerous thoroughfares designed to move high volumes of traffic like Morse Road, Bethel Road, Stringtown Road or Sawmill Road. These are the places often cited as having the most dangerous crossroads in the region, which is no coincidence at all.

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Vox is by far the largest YouTube channel on this list, with over 10.5 million subscribers and a parent company (Vox Media) that covers a wide range of news and opinion topics. The main Vox YouTube is an “explanatory journalism” medium that delves into topics and explains why they matter, going beyond the “current event of the day” type of coverage you’ll find in most mainstream news outlets. public.

A subcategory of Vox’s YouTube channel is “Urban Planning and Transportation” which has 50 videos in a dedicated playlist. Some of these topics cover travel, public transport, architecture, gentrification and more. They also manage to keep everything pretty concise with the video clocking in mostly between five and ten minutes, making for a very easy watch.

A good place to dive into Vox would be with their recent video titled In defense of the “gentrification building”, which tackles the current housing supply crisis across the United States, how we got here and how high-density development can contribute to the solution even though most people see this type of architecture as part of the problem.

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The B1M

If you’re more into construction, then the B1M is for you. Hosted by Fred Mills, the B1M covers building trends and topics from around the world. Many videos focus on transportation infrastructure, multi-billion dollar engineering projects, and advanced energy efficiency technologies.

The most popular B1M video of all time (at the time of publication) is titled “Norway’s $47BN Coastal Highway” with over 18.4 million views. And while interesting, that doesn’t apply much to life in Columbus.

Instead, a good place to chime in might be this Highway Teardown video that examines how many American cities are reclaiming pieces of their cityscapes that were previously destroyed with mid-century highway projects via the ” urban renovation”.

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adam something

Another newcomer, Adam Something, has been posting video essays on YouTube for just over a year. Unlike many of the other recommendations on this list, much of its content is politically charged and heavily opinionated, so take that with a grain of salt. That being said, many of his takes on Elon Musk and the city of Dubai are both informative and entertaining if you don’t mind seeing the status quo challenged a bit.

Some of the topics in Adam Something’s urban planning video include various types of alternative transportation systems (like the monorail and electric buses), the energy efficiency of skyscrapers versus mid-rise buildings, and the implementation of “superblocks” in Barcelona and how they could improve urban spaces in America.

A good video to start with Adam Something is his essay titled “How Our Streets Were Stolen From Us”, which delves into the story of how public streets were transformed from places made for people to places made for cars. . There are great history lessons in this one, and an interesting perspective on topics like jaywalking that aren’t always revisited in modern urban planning efforts.

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Architecture with Stewart / Stewart Hicks

Last but not least, Architecture With Stewart is another new channel that started publishing in late 2020, with a variety of interesting viewpoints on architecture and architecture-adjacent topics. Many of these videos do a great job of explaining architectural trends to the general public in an interesting and entertaining way. Stewart is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his background as a teacher is evident in the presentation of this material.

Stewart’s most popular video…”The Bewildering Architecture of Indoor Cities” has over 1.6 million views at the time of publication, which explores Chicago’s unique “Pedway” and the pros and cons of these types of buildings. “liminal” interior spaces found in shopping malls, airports, convention centers and other locations around the world.

A great video to start with on Stewart’s channel is the “Why Are Build Styles So Confusing?” below, which is a 14-minute introduction to the basics of architectural design, the functions built into many classic styles, and the modern contextualization of style definitions.

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What other urban planning, transportation, architecture or urban planning YouTube channels do you follow? Leave a comment below and share your favorite videos!

Bonny J. Streater