JOHN W. REPS
John W. Reps is Professor Emeritus at Cornell University where he taught city and regional planning from 1952 to 1987 and headed the program in that field from 1952 to 1964. He earned his A.B. degree summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1943 from Dartmouth College before his World War II military service as a sergeant with the U.S. Army Air Force.
After the war he studied planning at Cornell where he was awarded the Master's degree in 1947. He then pursued research in British planning in the Department of Civic Design at the University of Liverpool. From 1948 to 1950 he was director of planning for Broome County, New York before returning to England as a Fulbright Student. There he studied public administration under William Robson and Peter Self at the London School of Economics and town planning with William Holford at University College.
He is the author of fourteen books, beginning with The Making of Urban America in 1965 (reprinted in 1992 and 1998) and more recently, Bird's Eye Views: Historic Lithographs of North American Cities, published by Princeton Architectural Press in October, 1998. His Cities of the Mississippi (1994) received the Captain Donald Wright award in maritime Journalism conferred at the St. Louis Mercantile Library in 1996. Town Planning in Frontier America (1969, reprinted 1980) has appeared in Italian and French editions.
Cities of the American West: A History of Frontier Urban Planning received the Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association in 1980 for the year's best book on American history. His study of the international competition for the design of the Australian Federal Capital, Canberra 1912, was published by Melbourne University Press in 1997. It expands on the material of the travelling exhibit opened at the National Library of Australia in 1995 for which he served as principal exhibit curator.
Many of his journal articles on the history of American planning provided material for these books, but early in his career Professor Reps also wrote and lectured on legal and administrative aspects of land-use control and on urban land policy. At a time when few legal scholars wrote on the subject, Professor Reps contributed articles on zoning and land subdivision control to the law reviews published at Duke University, Syracuse University, and Cornell.
As a planning consultant he drafted zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations for the cities of Rome and Syracuse in New York, Baltimore County in Maryland, and many towns and villages in New York State. These included more than a dozen communities along the St. Lawrence River during construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and power-generating facilities of the New York Power Authority. In Ithaca he served as Vice-Chairman of the city planning board in 1956-57 and 1968-69 and as its Chairman in 1958.
For thirty years from 1964 to 1994 he was the owner and publisher of Historic Urban Plans. This firm issued facsimiles of more than 500 town plans, city views, and maps originally published from 1493 to 1894. Many of these reproductions were made from original engravings and lithographs that were part of the extensive map collection that he began in 1947. Several hundred of these were catalogued and auctioned in 1999 by Swann Galleries in New York, and he has given many other printed and manuscript maps to the Cornell University library.
At the annual meetings of library and museum print curators and collectors under the name of the North American Print Conference and at meetings of the American Historical Print Collectors Society Professor Reps has presented many papers on colonial and nineteenth century American urban views and maps. His book, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, is the definitive work on American lithographic urban images, and the numbers attached to its 4400 catalog entries is the accepted means used by libraries, scholars, and dealers to identify these prints.
Professor Reps has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation (1958), Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships (1959), Fulbright Commission (1965-66), National Endowment for the Humanities (1973-74), and The Australian National University (1989 and 1992). He has also been a visiting professor or scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (1958), Institute of Social Studies, The Hague (1965-66), University of North Carolina (1982), Washington State University (1983), Beijing University (1988), and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (1998). In 1965 he chaired the four-week session on urban planning at the Salzburg Seminar. He has lectured at more than one hundred American universities, libraries, and professional and historical societies and at dozens of institutions in Europe, China, and Australia.
In 1996 the American Planning Association, citing him as the father of modern American city planning history, designated him a Planning Pioneer. In 1985 the University of Nebraska conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts and Letters. Earlier that year the University of Georgia appointed him one of six Bicentennial Distinguished Visiting Professors. In 1984 the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning recognized him with its biennial award for Distinguished Service to Education in Planning, the second person to be so honored.
Several organizations have elected him to membership: Center for Great Plains Studies (1992- ); American Antiquarian Society (1982-1989); New York Council for the Humanities (1974-1979); New York State Historic Records Advisory Board (1976-1979); Council, Institute of Early American History and Culture (1975-1977); Council, International Federation for Housing and Planning (1962-1972); Board of Directors, American Society of Planning Officials (1966-1969). His editorial board services include: Planning Perspectives, Winterthur Portfolio, Journal of Urban History, William and Mary Quarterly, and Zoning Digest.