In 1922, some of the region’s most prominent urban planning experts and civic leaders joined forces to survey, analyze, and develop a comprehensive plan to make the region a better place to work and live. Nearly 100 years later, Regional Plan Association has developed and promoted ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resiliency, and quality of life of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area.




1922 Meeting Ticket

Invitation to Committee Meeting


1923 New York Times on the Regional Plan scan

Plan Announced to Develop City and Environs

1923 RPA Parks No 16 Suggested Rearrangement of Gramercy Park M600

Suggested Rearrangement of Gramercy Park

1922 Railroad Commuting Time 96

Railroad Commuting Time To and From New York City Terminals

1914 1923 Land Values Manhattan 096

1914-1923 Land Values Manhattan


Regional Survey of New York and its Environs, Volumes I-VIII

From 1927 to 1929, a series of ten technical volumes on manufacturing, transportation, and community planning were published as precursors to the first Regional Plan.

1927 Publications of RPA
1927 alt Image
1927 RPA Plan1 v1 New York Region Painted by Jules Guerin 150 resized


1929 RPA Certificate of Incorporation S600
Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs

Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs

The First Regional Plan was a major advancement in the field of urban planning. Previous efforts had generally focused on individual cities, rather than on large areas encompassing many urban centers and stretching across state boundaries. The First Volume proposed an elaborate network of highways, railroads, and parks, along with residential and industrial centers, for the region.
learn more
video by Nate Dorr




1930 george mcaneny
New York Preservation Archive Project

George McAneny, RPA's First President

As RPA’s President for its first decade, George McAneny worked to turn the ideas of the First Regional Plan into reality. George McAneny also served as Manhattan Borough President, Comptroller of the City, and coordinated the 1939 World’s Fair.

learn more about George McAneny

How Swamp Lands May Be Reclaimed

The Meadowlands are wetlands located in Northern New Jersey that serve as a sanctuary for wildlife and a critical convergence of infrastructure. At the turn of the century, several planners in Newark and New York wanted to develop rather than preserve the Meadowlands as open space. In 1930, RPA released a report which recommended filling in the Meadowlands to create a city large enough to accommodate five million people. The cost of filling in the swamp lands” was estimated to be $125 million in 1930. In later years, RPA would come to recognize the importance of preserving wetlands.

1930 NY Times Meadowlands
New York Times


1931 Housing Conditions in the New York Region Page 1v2
1931 1st Plan Vol2 Title Page


The Rebuilding of Blighted Areas

The Rebuilding of Blighted Areas” is a Depression-era book that defined blight and suggested policy solutions, such as public housing projects and slum clearance through eminent domain. It specifically highlighted Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In earlier publications, RPA recommended the construction of a riverfront park of 50 to 100 acres and the acquisition of a number of playgrounds to improve living conditions in the Lower East Side.

1933 Tenement Backyard
Illustration from the first Regional Plan
1933 Housing Models Diagram


1928 General Plan of the Park System 150

Increase in Planning Boards and Creation of the NYC Planning Commission

From 1929 to 1939, the number of planning boards in the region increased from 61 to 204. In 1936, the planning commission for New York City was formed. RPA’s chief administrative officer at the time, Lawrence Orton, was one of the first commissioners, and he served in that role for 31 years.

1940 County Planning Chart


1937 Drive is Pressed to End Pollution NY Times page 001
New York Times
1936 Steady Growth Seen for Fairfield County page 001
New York Times


1939 Brooklyn Battery Tunnel RPA Rendering




1940 Densities 1945

Where People Crowd Together


Region’s Highway and Parkway Networks

The region’s highway and parkway network followed RPA’s proposals very closely, beginning in the 1920s when the planned location of the George Washington Bridge was moved from 57th Street to 178th Street. Construction happened quickly and between 1928 and 1940, more than a third of RPA’s 2,548-mile highway program was completed or in progress. By the time of RPA’s 25th anniversary, more than 400 miles of the arterial parkway system was developed, including the Belt Parkway, Henry Hudson, and East River Drive.

1941 GWB RPA Plan1 v2 174 Architects Drawing Hudson River Bridge 600
1941 Highways


1942 Parking Study6


RPA’s Office in the 1940s

Prelinger Archives collection via SehgalTV.
1943 RPA office 01
1943 RPA office 02
1943 RPA office 03
1943 RPA office 04

What the People Think of Their City: An Appraisal of Public Opinion

The Regional Plan Association presents the results for New York City of a National Public Opinion Survey on city life and problems.”

read the full report
1943 RPA Bulletin61 Page 01


National Defense in the New York Region, and Meeting Wartime Demands for Passenger Transportation

During WWII, RPA directed its efforts toward bridging political boundaries and facilitating the cooperation of governmental agencies in the region to address housing, transportation, and civilian protection efforts. RPA estimated that $1.5 billion out of the $12.5 billion defense con­tracts allocated through January 1941 would be spent in northern New Jersey, southern New York and Fairfield County, Connecticut. It was also noted that the region would be facing housing and transportation issues due to the convergence of workers on defense industry centers. In a follow-up bulletin published in 1942, RPA highlighted wartime demands for passenger transportation and called for the establishment of a regional office of war transportation for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metro­politan area.

read one of the reports
1944 WWII Domestic Logistics


1946 Housing For Your Town Cover

The Postwar Explosion

The New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region changed dramatically after WWII. In the 1930s, 55 percent of the Region’s population growth was in New York City. After the war, there was a massive move to the suburbs. In just 15 years, the suburban population doubled, and the new road network encouraged sprawl. RPA identified land that should not be built on - steep slopes, marshes, and soils of high agricultural value - and land best suited for development, based on proximity to public transportation and to Manhattan. RPA also advocated for comprehensive community planning, improved building codes, and large-scale redevelopment of regional city centers to reduce encroachment on open space. For example, in 1947, RPA pointed out that, Queens has right now what may be its last opportunity in our generation to develop into a county of community centers and neighborhoods instead of into a city of monotonous gridiron pattern.”

read the full report
1950 migration
1950 suburban Population


1947 Airports


1948 motor vehicles manhattan

After World War II, commuting into Manhattan increased dramatically, with much of the growth coming from The Bronx, Westchester, and Northern New Jersey.


“Neighborhood Unit”

RPA’s design principles for neighborhoods, such as garden apartments, walkable shopping centers, and minimal through-traffic, were put in place in areas like Fresh Meadows and Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, as well as Radburn, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Radburn was designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, with Thomas Adams, RPA’s Director of Plans and Surveys, consulting on the project. Though construction was halted by the Depression, Radburn is still upheld as a prime example of neighborhood design.

1949 Neighborhood Unit
1949 Radburn




1949 RPA Comic

Day at the Office

1949 How RP Acan Help

How Can RPA Help Your Community?

1950 portauthorityopeningphoto

Building a Better Bus Terminal

The First Regional Plan recommended a bus terminal in Midtown to handle suburban traffic, and in 1950, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey opened the first bus terminal in Manhattan. However, in recent years, it has become readily apparent that more capacity is needed to move commuters across the Hudson River into the City.

read our recommendation in the Fourth Regional Plan


1951 Tri State Region As Defined by Different Agencies
Danielson, Michael N., and Jameson W. Doig. New York: The Politics of Urban Regional Development. Berkeley: Published for the Institute of Governmental Studies [by] University of California Press, 1982


BQE and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

RPA has a long history with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. In the 1930s, RPA recommended the construction of the highway between the Gowanus Parkway and the Triborough Bridge, which was completed by 1964, with the promenade opening in 1954. However, as the environmental and social impacts of highway construction have become increasingly clear, RPA became a strong advocate for reducing car dependency and providing reliable and affordable alternatives to private vehicle travel. In 2019, New York City released a plan to rebuild the BQE’s triple cantilever that called for a temporary six-lane highway on the Brooklyn Promenade. RPA published, Reimagining the BQE,” a pivotal report that recommended demand management strategies to reduce traffic on the BQE, fundamentally shifting the dialogue among agencies and stakeholders. The report spurred the Mayor to appoint a panel of the City’s leading experts, including RPA’s President Tom Wright, to examine new solutions.

read the full report
1954 BQE Promenade Constrution1949 BPL
Brooklyn Daily Eagle via Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library


1956 Entering Manhattan By Mode

Hub Bound Traffic

1956 Entering Manhattan

Traffic by Sector


1960 RPA Spread City Page 01

The End of RPA?

In the 1950s, some members of the Board of RPA considered its dissolution, on the grounds that its mission, the promotion of the First Regional Plan, was largely complete with the building of the Verrazzano Bridge. Then, RPA was asked to undertake a new project analyzing the impacts and alternatives to sprawl. Over the next three years, RPA’s Board grew, $1.5 million was raised for research, and the term spread city” was created to describe the region’s new settlement pattern. RPA identified a rapid increase in lot size requirements that was spreading housing and scattering non­residential development. Open land would be urbanized at a breakneck rate, the study showed. ln fact, by 1970, 2,200 square miles had been urbanized, nearly five times the area urbanized in 1925.

read the full report
1959 Spread City




1960 Multi Family Units page 001

Multi-Family Housing Units

1960 RPA Plan2 The Regions Growth Page 074 Fire Island

Fire Island National Seashore, Fire Island, NY

1960 Race for Open Space Map


Commuter Report

The U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce asked RPA to investigate commuter travel patterns in the region. RPA’s Commuter Report” made the case that public transportation was essential to the region’s economy. The report encouraged reinvestment in the railroads and the first federal aid for public transportation. All three State Highway Departments were transformed into Departments of Transportation that worked to modernize and subsidize rail and bus service.

1961 Commuters RPA Plan2 Public Services Page 43 Commuter Rail Riders


Alternatives to Spread-City — What Kind of Metropolis Could We Have?

The 1929 Plan has run its course. Now, Regional Plan Association is working on new planning guidelines for the region in a long-term research and information program. This Conference is an important landmark in that program.”

read the 17th Regional Plan Conference brochure
1962 metropolis1985 brochure Cover


1964 Subway

NYC Subway Riders

1964 Con Ed Hydropower Hudson Highlands
Marist Environmental History Project

Opposition to ConEd on the Hudson

To address New York City’s energy needs, Consolidated Edison planned to build a pumped storage hydroelectric plant on Storm King Mountain. RPA supported organizations such as Scenic Hudson, the Hudson River Conservation Society, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and others and argued against the plant. RPA recommended that a comprehensive plan be developed for the Hudson River waterfront and that some parts of the waterfront be preserved as parkland. The fight was a watershed moment in conservation and the field of environmental law.

read the full report

Rethinking Tri-State Rail

In the early 1960s, the railroad companies in the region were approaching bankruptcy. RPA discussed with legislators the idea of placing private railroads in public ownership, and creating one agency that would own and operate a tri-state regional network. There were many obstacles, both physical and political. Eventually, a compromise was reached: multiple public rail agencies would be created. As of 2020, residents still had to negotiate three separate rail systems: LIRR, Metro-North, and NJ Transit. RPA maintained that the continued separateness of the tri-state rail system had to be addressed.

read the full report
1963 Regional Rail Models RPA News chart3
1964 MT Asystem 1964map


1967 RP Aas Psychiatrist


Goals for the Region - Public Participation in Regional Planning

RPA was an innovator in using mass media to involve the public in planning decisions. Goals for the Region was a town hall meeting series that used television, listener groups, and written questionnaires to survey approximately 5,600 people about regional planning.

read the full report
1967 Goals For The Region Map
1967 Clips

In the News


The Second Regional Plan

The Second Regional Plan

Consisting of a series of reports, the Second Regional Plan called for more federal investment in public services for low-income communities and communities of color, and more compact development to reduce sprawl, minimize auto travel, and protect open space. After a decade of public discussions and research, recommendations were published and presented to an audience of 1,000 in New York City.
learn more
video by Nate Dorr
1969 Steps in a regional Plan

Jamaica Center

Jamaica Center” was published in 1968, laying out a plan to transform the Queens downtown and arguing for more investment in regional city centers outside of Manhattan. RPA continued to study the Jamaica area; for example, in 2016, RPA released a report, Downtown Jamaica: Gateway to the New York Region: Design, Market and Mobility Assessments.”

read the full report
1968 RPA Plan2 Jamaica Center Page Jamaica

Public Service in Older Cities

In Public Service in Older Cities,” RPA outlined strategies for the U.S. to meet its responsibilities to low-income communities, for states to invest in public education, and for regional city centers to adequately finance community improvement programs.

read the full report
1968 Public Service


1967 Research Reaction Results

Research, Reaction, Results

1969 Lower Manhattan Expressway From Regional Plan News 77
1969 Lomex
1969 regions Airports Chart

The Region's Airports

The Region’s Airports” made the case that building a fourth airport should be rethought. To forestall the need for it, the report recommended pricing out small private aircraft, investment in higher speed intercity rail, and growing seating capacity of aircraft. Combined, these would result in slower growth of air passenger traffic and greater efficient of runway capacity. The fourth airport has not been built. In recent years, two RPA reports have called for new runways at Newark and Kennedy airports to meet continued passenger growth.

read the full report

Urban Design Manhattan

Urban Design Manhattan” recommended design principles for central business districts. Among its contributions were the designs for three underground walkways to connect subway stations, at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue, under Bryant Park, and at 50th Street and Broadway/Seventh Avenue. Opening subway stations to light and air, as the Citicorp Plaza did, and concentrating development above and adjacent to subway stations were also major elements of the report.

read the full report
1969 Urban Design Manhattan Cover
RPA Plan2 Urban Design Manhattan 34 Access Tree Diagram
RPA Plan2 Urban Design Manhattan 104 Access Tree
1969 1 RPA Plan2 Urban Design Manhattan Page 075
1969 2 RPA Plan2 Urban Design Manhattan Page 075
1969 3 RPA Plan2 Urban Design Manhattan Page 075




Regional City Centers

To implement the recommendations of the Second Regional Plan, RPA called for public-private partnerships to strengthen regional city centers. RPA helped form effective partnerships in Paterson and New Brunswick, NJ; Jamaica, NY; and Bridgeport, CT. In Stamford, CT, RPA encouraged new development downtown, and helped convince the chairman of General Telephone and Electronics (GTE) to build its headquarters in Stamford. GTE was followed by five other Fortune 500 corporations shortly afterwards.

RPA Plan2 The Regions Growth Page 051 New Brunswick

New Brunswick, NJ

1971 GTE Stamford

Stamford, CT

City of Stamford, Connecticut, Urban Redevelopment Commission Photographic Archive


1972 gateway brochure Cover
National Parks Service
1972 Gateway Park RP Anews 1977

Paterson Great Falls

The U.S.’s first planned industrial city, Paterson, NJ, is home to one of the largest waterfalls in the country, Paterson Great Falls. In 1972, RPA advocated for the Great Falls and the surrounding area to be transformed into a national park and recommended that the city preserve its historic factories and encourage office development downtown. In 2009, President Barack Obama made the 77-foot waterfall and the area surrounding a national historical park. It was formally added to the National Park System in 2011.

read the full report
1972 RPA 4 RP Places Flagship Paterson CC BY 9792747564 by Rich Mitchell resized
1972 Hackensack Meadows Aerial

Reduced Office Development in the Meadowlands

In plans for the Meadowlands, RPA shifted its thinking from development to preservation. It advocated for the creation of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission to coordinate land use in the wetlands. RPA also recommended preserving 3,100 acres, redirecting waste that was disposed in the wetlands, and moving office development to cities such as Paterson and Newark. The 1972 plan for the Meadowlands was modified on RPA’s suggestions.


This work was supported in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Committee on Minority Affairs (COMA)

The Committee on Minority Affairs (COMA) was composed of 57 members, chaired by H. Carl McCall, President, Inner City Broadcasting Corp and chairman of the editorial board of the Amsterdam News, and led by Executive Director Junius Williams, a Newark at­torney. It was established because Black and Puerto Rican members of RPA noted that urging residents to engage in planning for their communities, while giving little voice to Black and Puerto Rican members in planning for that involvement, was contradictory. To strengthen the CHOICES project, RPA allocated a large portion of project funds to COMA and COMA had autonomy in their engagement with residents. COMA provided their own background reading and questionnaires for the town halls focused on housing and poverty.

1973 New York Amsterdam COMA members speak out
New York Amsterdam News
RPA Plan2 RPA News 095 Choices for 76 Emmy
RPA Plan2 RPA News 095 Choices for 76 News Clips
1973 Choices76 comic
1973 Car Congestion

Fewer Cars, More Buses

Reducing the number of cars in Manhattan in favor of more public transit has been a longtime goal of RPA’s. RPA convinced the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to route new highway lanes to the George Washington Bridge, instead of to the Lincoln Tunnel, and challenged a proposal to add a third tube to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Additionally, RPA proposed extending the bus system to connect low‐income areas to nearby manufacturing districts, more free bus transfers, discounts on off-peak train tickets, and creating more subway stations in transit deserts.

Regional Energy Consumption

During the 1973 oil crisis, RPA announced the results of a study demonstrating for the first time the direct relationship between higher urban densities and lower per capita energy consumption. That study helped to make the concern over oil supplies a powerful force for recentralizing activities in cities.

read the full report
1973 Oil Crisis Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons


1975 Pedestrianson Sidewalk

Urban Space for Pedestrians

Urban Space for Pedestrians” took approaches for analyzing vehicle traffic and applied it to the needs of pedestrians. The report recommended expanding sidewalks, selectively closing streets to vehicle traffic, and designing buildings to give more space for walking and amenities. It set off nationwide studies and plans for improved conditions for pedestrians.

read the full report

Region on the Brink

The region suffered heavily during the 1970s recession. As New York City teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, President Gerald Ford refused to commit federal funds. RPA called for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to work together to overcome their economic difficulties, and recommended the three states collaborate rather than compete with each other for resources.

1975 Ford to City
The Daily News


1976 subway Ridership

Subway Ridership Declined in the 1970s


1976 RPA brochure cover


1978 Dan Farrell Jimmy Carter South Bronx

President Carter visits the South Bronx in 1977

National Urban Policy

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter announced the first National Urban Policy, which reflected many of RPA’s recommendations. In a telegram sent to RPA on the eve of its 50th anniversary dinner, President Carter stated that RPA’s support and leadership had been critical for his administration’s policy.

read President Carter's telegram


NJ Transit

RPA supported the creation of New Jersey Transit, which operates buses and commuter rail across the state. Formed in 1979, NJ Transit was the third-largest provider of public transportation in the country in the 2010s. It was considered a model transit system in the 1980s and 1990s, with several expansions, including the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Midtown Direct, Montclair Direct, and Secaucus Junction. NJ Transit also electrified rail lines, rationalized fare systems, and extended the Newark Subway.

1979 NJ Transit Depot
1979 segregation Report

Segregation and Opportunity

As RPA geared up for its Second Regional Plan, it warned that the region was in danger of decline due to racial and economic segregation. In the late 1970s, RPA conducted extensive surveys in several New Jersey cities, including Newark, Elizabeth, Clifton, East Orange, and Passaic, and argued that lingering prejudice could stall efforts to rebuild smaller cities. Published in 1979, Segregation and Opportunity in the Region’s Housing” was a major research effort which demonstrated that regional segregation was the result of racial discrimination rather than income differentials between White and Black Americans. The study reported that discrimination was a major reason why two-thirds of Black families in the region were confined to about 1.35 percent of the residential land. It also recommended five steps toward improving the situation, including strengthening public and private fair housing organizations at the county level, creating a region-wide network of housing counseling, information, and referral services, and an active enlistment of the real estate industry through both incentives and sanctions in the effort to end housing segregation.

read the full report




1980 Crop 1970s 80s Staff Group Photo Lilly Chen files

RPA Staff

1980 Regional Accounts

Regional Accounts

Regional Accounts” measured how money flowed among consumers, producers, and the government in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region. The report traced the flow of funds through income, consumption, and production both within the region’s economy and between the region and the rest of the country. It showed that businesses in the New York metropolitan region were more productive and profitable than in the rest of the country, and also documented for the first time how much more the region paid in federal taxes than the federal government invested back in the region.

1980 Three Rail Systems


Downtown Brooklyn

The 1983 Downtown Brooklyn” study is credited with kicking off a new era of development and influencing major projects in the late 1980s, such as MetroTech Center. RPA followed up with another report on Downtown Brooklyn in 1996 for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Brooklyn Borough President. The report cataloged Downtown Brooklyn’s assets and integrated them into a new plan to guide future development.

read one of the reports


Fairfield 2000, Morris 2000, Westchester 2000, and New Directions for The Bronx

RPA’s public engagement efforts continued after CHOICES for 76. Morris 2000 and Westchester 2000’s recommendations for county-wide planning initiatives were filmed and shared in newspapers around the region. Similar projects were completed in Fairfield County, CT in 1987 and in The Bronx in 1988.

read one of the reports
1985 Communities2000
New York Times

River City

In the 1980s, the New Jersey side of the Hudson River was one of the few underdeveloped areas near New York City. RPA argued for the waterfront to be continuous as well as welcoming for pedestrians, cyclists, and boaters, and proposed light rail service. Ferry service across the Hudson was restored later in the 1980s, and private development increased in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to a renewed Hudson River waterfront but also gentrification along the coast.

read the full report
1985 River City


1983 NY Daily News Transit Cover

A Framework for Transit Planning in the New York Region

After the publication of Urban Rail in America,” the MTA asked RPA to embark on a study for its Strategic Planning Initiative. Over the course of three years, RPA reviewed current and projected public transit needs, analyzed the MTA’s financial and productivity challenges, and proposed a dramatic reconfiguration of the subway system. RPA developed a framework that would provide subway service to parts of the city that had none, but did have sufficient population density to support it, as well as made use of abandoned or underused railroad rights-of-way, saving tunneling cost. The report, A Framework for Transit Planning in the New York Region,” was published in April 1986. An illustrative map of the reconfiguration of the subway was also provided.

Boris Pushkarev, RPA Vice President of Research and Planning, speaks to the media about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a New York City conference on public transit.

Death of Westway

RPA proposed a West Side highway connecting Midtown and Lower Manhattan in its First Regional Plan. In the 1970s, as development increased on Manhattan’s West Side, the idea of Westway was revived. The project entailed a six-lane highway built mostly underground between 42nd Street and the Battery area. The soil displaced by the construction of the highway would be used to extend the West Side of Manhattan into the Hudson River, creating land for housing and commercial development, as well as a large park along the Hudson. Although the project was approved by multiple mayoral administrations, governors, and federal officials, there were many objections to the plan, including the disruption to neighborhoods on the West Side and the potential impact on the Hudson River and its striped bass. After more than 10 years and millions of dollars in litigation, the idea of Westway was put to rest.

1976 westway

1976 clip from Regional Plan News




1991 Regional Assembly Shaping the Region Tomorrow Brochure Page 1


New Jersey Brownfields

There are tens of thousands of brownfield sites, or potentially contaminated underutilized land, across the U.S. RPA’s Metropolitan Brownfields Initiative was a multi-year project in the 1990s that reviewed brownfields that could be recycled and revitalized within New Jersey. Staff members inventoried a number of sites, including former industrial properties, abandoned waterfronts, and other environmentally degraded landscapes, and assisted communities in reclaiming them. The final report of the Brownfields initiative, Making Redevelopment Accessible in New Jersey,” was published in 1998.

read the full report
1992 Urban Waterfront Standard Development Lane Dodsons


Building a Metropolitan Greensward

RPA’s advocacy for open space continued between the publication of the Second and Third Regional Plans. The organization’s focus shifted to linking regional open spaces via a network of greenways. One example was the Merritt Parkway, a limited-access expressway stretching 37.5 miles in Connecticut. RPA stated that the parkway should have a trail to provide recreation benefits for Fairfield County, whose residents suffered from the third worst air quality in the nation in the 1990s. RPA consolidated its recommendations in Building a Metropolitan Greensward,” which was presented at a meeting of environmentalists, planners, and government officials in 1993.

read the Merritt Parkway Trail Study
1993 Building A Metropolitan Greensward


1995 Governors Island Aerial afrieden


A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan

A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan

The Third Regional Plan called for building a seamless mass transit system, creating a three-million acre network of protected natural resource systems, and maintaining half the region’s employment in urban centers. A cornerstone of the plan was the recognition that the region’s continued prosperity was no longer guaranteed following the severe economic downturn of the early 1990s.
learn more
video by Nate Dorr

Income Inequality in the Region

The gap between the rich and poor accelerated in the late 20th century. RPA and the United Way of Tri-State released a report in 1986 warning that inequality would strain the region. Then, a severe economic downturn hit New York, and from 1989 to 1992, the region shed 770,000 jobs, one of the largest job losses of any U.S. metropolitan region since World War II. Lack of investment in the region’s schools, rail systems, community design, and natural resources slowed the economic recovery. Ridership fell by 20 percent on the New York City subway system. By the time of the Third Plan’s publication in 1996, it was still not clear if the economy could fully recover. Success in the region could no longer be defined in simple terms of economic growth without accounting for social and environmental costs and benefits.


What to Do With the High Line?

CSX Transportation asked RPA to explore uses for the abandoned High Line on Manhattan’s West Side, constructed in 1934. RPA examined several options, including a subway connection, light rail, bus, or a rail storage facility. RPA also recommended that the High Line be repurposed for recreational purposes, such as a bikeway or walkway, and said that zoning restrictions should be examined for creative re-use along the corridor. The High Line’s transformation into a park started in 2006, opening in phases from 2009 to 2019. It is one of the premier tourist sites in the city and a catalyst for the rebirth of the Far West Side of Midtown Manhattan.

read the full report
1999 Andrew van Leeuwen Highline 010
Andrew van Leeuwen

Regional Express Rail and Metrolink

Continuing its work from the 1960s, RPA proposed a regional express rail (Rx) to break down artificial barriers among the three states. RPA outlined new rail lines, piecing together small or abandoned rights-of-way with new construction. Recommendations included the Second Avenue subway extending into Brooklyn, a new crossing of the Hudson with a subway route, East Side access of the Long Island Rail Road terminating in Grand Central Terminal, and a Brooklyn-Queens-Bronx Triboro line. The 1999 Metrolink report expanded on Rx. It was a four-borough system-wide solution to the capacity and connection problems of the subway system, adding capacity for 250,000 new riders each peak commuting period.

read the full report
1999 RPA Plan3 Region at Risk Plate 3 E Completion of the Rx System




2000 Hudson Bergen Light Rail provides transportation in Hudson County

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail

The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail was an idea drawn from RPA studies in 1966 and 1985. NJ Transit built the light rail along the Hudson River waterfront starting in 2000. Currently, the light rail line is 17 miles long and moves more than 15 million riders annually.


2002 Listening to the City

Community Design

Community engagement and interactive design workshops are integral parts of RPA’s work. Over the years, RPA has partnered with transit agencies and local communities on a variety of place-based design projects. In Somerville, NJ, the adopted station area plan created new neighborhoods linked to the downtown as well as reclaimed a closed landfill for a greenway. In Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, the RPA-sponsored vision plan for mixed-use and open space resolved decades of legal and political paralysis around the cleanup of one of the most notorious brownfields in the Hudson Valley. In 2002, RPA advised Stamford, CT on the creation and adoption of a new comprehensive plan.

read one of the reports
2002 charette
2002 charette v2

LIRR Third Track

In 2002, RPA prepared a report addressing a number of transit issues facing Long Island. RPA noted how to make LIRR more effective in carrying people between Nassau and Suffolk counties, pinpointing the absence of a third track between Jamaica and Hicksville. A third track would make it possible to operate a reverse” service on the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, and Montauk branches. In 2018, Governor Cuomo announced that LIRR was breaking ground on the Third Track Project. The $2.6 billion project included adding the third track, new power substations, and modernizing infrastructure. The Third Track is set to be completed by 2022.

read the full report
2002 Tri State 476

RPA honored the Rauch Foundation in 2019 for its work on the Third Track.

2002 Third Track Zoom out with tracks plain2 02

Montclair Connection

RPA proposed a ¼ mile connection of two rail lines in Montclair, NJ in its first Regional Plan. It was meant to consolidate rail services in Essex County, NJ, and give better access to Midtown Manhattan at Penn Station. The idea languished for many years but was finally adopted by NJ Transit in the 1980s. The Montclair Connection opened in 2002.

2002 Montclair Cxn2


2007 Designing Tomorrows Communities
1991 Urban Downtown Standard Development Lane Dodsons

Standard development

1991 Urban Downtown Compact Development Lane Dodsons

Compact Development

Transitioning the Tri-State Towards Sustainability

RPA, working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and the New School, organized a conference on regional sustainability in 2003. The goal of the conference was to assess where the region stood with respect to environmental, economic, and social sustainability, and to pool the knowledge and experience of stakeholders on what initiatives public agencies and private sector leaders should pursue to transition the region towards sustainability.

read the full report


2004 MTA Funding Sources Graph

An Assessment of the 2005-2009 Capital Needs of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

In 2004, as the MTA was finalizing its capital program for 2005-2009, RPA released several reports analyzing the plan’s assumptions, financing, scope, and priorities. RPA warned that the region’s transit network was becoming increasingly outmoded, and stated that, unless the MTA made the right investments, NYC risked losing one of its most important competitive advantages in a rapidly changing global economy. In 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the MTA due to reliability and crowding problems.

read one of the reports

New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act

The New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act and the federal Highlands Conservation Act led to the preservation of nearly a million acres of environmentally sensitive land and protected a source of clean drinking water for more than 5 million New Jersey residents. RPA supported both pieces of legislation, and later released reports on conservation and sustainable development in the Highlands.

read one of the reports
2004 Flickr Nicholas Toneli Delaware Water Gap
Nicholas Toneli
2004 Com 8 Hudson Yards Flickr Shinya Suzuki 31869647704 aecd747fef o
Shinya Suzuki

Urban Development Alternatives for the Hudson Rail Yards/ West Side Stadium

The Third Regional Plan laid out a vision for Manhattan’s Far West Side that included mixed-use development and an expansion of West Midtown’s business district. That vision helped shape RPA’s alternative development scenario for the Hudson rail yards when city leaders proposed building a football stadium. In 2004, RPA released a series of reports arguing that mixed-use development was not only viable for private developers, but would provide a greater public return on investment than the proposed stadium and convention center. The West Side Stadium proposal was rejected by the New York State Legislature in 2005. Construction of the current Hudson Yards development began in 2012, with completion predicted for 2024.

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Central Pine Barren Commission

RPA helped establish the Central Pine Barren Commission, protecting 100,000 acres essential to Long Island’s groundwater supply. Nearby, RPA helped advocate for the creation of the 230-acre Jamesport State Park, now Hallock State Park Preserve, as part of a campaign to protect and improve public access to the Long Island Sound in 2005.

2005 Hallock State Park Preserve
Wikimedia Commons
2005 NJ Transit Bus4 RP

How to Save New Jersey's Transportation System

Though property tax relief dominated public debate in New Jersey in the early 2000s, RPA identified transportation funding as the State’s most pressing financial problem. It was predicted that by June 30, 2006, New Jersey would exhaust nearly all revenue sources used to pay the capital costs of building and maintaining its roads and public transit systems. RPA warned that fiscal irresponsibility in transportation trust fund management threatened to end a quarter of a century of growth in New Jersey, and released a series of reports between 2005 to 2010 sounding the alarm. Unfortunately, New Jersey’s transportation system continued to decline, and NJ Transit suffered from fiscal and management crises. The agency grappled with aging equipment, employee shortages, and severe delays in the 2010s. After years of consistent growth, rail ridership declined by nearly 3 percent between 2016 and 2017 while ridership on neighboring systems, such as Metro North and LIRR, grew. RPA pushed for New Jersey lawmakers to commit more funding to the agency, better preparation for disrupted travel through the Hudson River rail tunnels, better bus service, and a new strategic plan with a long-term vision. In 2020, Governor Murphy announced that a 10-year strategic plan for NJ Transit was on its way.

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2005 NJ Transit 9

Hurricane Katrina: Mapping for Sustainable Resilience

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, RPA partnered with the University of Texas at Austin to convene the National Consortium to Map Gulf Coast Ecological Constraints. RPA helped prepare a series of maps which illustrated the continued vulnerability of the Gulf Coast to storms and sea level rise, including many areas that were slated to be rebuilt with billions in public funding. The maps would help planners determine how to sustainably rebuild the Gulf Coast and encourage other regions to perform similar analyses so that damage could be limited in the future, should disaster strike.

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2006 Gulf Coast Flood Map


Ferries in the Region: Challenges and Opportunities

In the early 2000s, there was a strong desire for additional ferry service, particularly connecting Manhattan to the other boroughs and to New Jersey. RPA reviewed more than 70 ferry routes that were tried since 1986, and concluded that those that worked well filled a niche that existing transit could not. Successful ferry routes joined places that had poor ground transit options and were either walkable to riders’ destinations at one end or connected to existing transit modes at the other, or both. RPA’s report provided guidance for future potential ferry routes. In 2019, more than 10,000 people rode ferries in New York City along routes connecting The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens daily.

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2006 SI Ferry
2006 Newark1
2006 Newark2


Moynihan Station

New York Penn Station is the busiest rail hub in North America and a design disaster. RPA argued that converting the nearby James A. Farley Post Office building into a transportation hub would not only restore much of what was lost with the demolition of the old Penn Station in 1963, but would also create a better gateway to the region. RPA outlined the benefits in a series of papers from 2005 to 2007. Amtrak, in partnership with New York Empire State Development Corporation and its subsidiary, Moynihan Station Development Corporation, began construction on a new Moynihan Train Hall in the Farley building. It opened in January 2021.

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2007 Moynihan Empire State Development Image courtesy of SOM Public Square 2560x1440
SOM | Public Square
RPA Plan1 v2 395

Second Avenue Subway illustration from the First Regional Plan

Transportation Megaprojects

Several transportation megaprojects in New York City have been completed or are under construction, thanks to the advocacy of Empire State Transportation Alliance (ESTA), an RPA-led coalition of more than 40 civic, business, labor, and environmental groups. ESTA’s major achievement was successfully advocating for the adoption of the 2005 MTA capital plan that helped fund the Second Avenue subway (SAS), the East Side Access project connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central, and the extension of the #7 subway line to the Far West Side. The Second Avenue subway was identified as a need by the City of New York and in the first Regional Plan in the 1920s. In January 2017, the first phase of the SAS opened with three new stations on Manhattan’s Upper East Side from 63rd Street to 96th Street. Construction of East Side Access started in 2007. As of 2020, excavation is complete but the project remains under construction. The extension of the #7 subway line also started in 2007, and was completed in 2015.

2007 Transportation Megaprojects
Metropolitan Transportation Authority


2008 RPA Nissequogue River Stewardship Action Plan Page 01

Nissequogue River

Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, RPA coordinated local stakeholders to chart a course for the protection of the Nissequogue River watershed. Over the course of 18 Steering Committee meetings, numerous subcommittee meetings, and various public events and lectures, RPA helped facilitate a stewardship action plan.

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2008 America 2050 in 2009 Resized


2009 Climate Change Institute Report

Climate Change Institute

During the regional Climate Change Institute, six mayors participated in a multi-day problem-solving strategy session with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and a resource team of planning and sustainability professionals. The six case studies presented covered topics from storm water management, energy efficiency, transit-oriented development to green building. RPA later evaluated the state of climate change planning in the region, noting the limitations that towns faced in creating and implementing plans, and suggested ways in which a well-coordinated regional strategy could increase the effectiveness of climate change planning.

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Times Square for Pedestrians

The Second Regional Plan and RPA’s Urban Space for Pedestrians” report proposed closing Broadway to traffic in Midtown Manhattan. Times Square’s pedestrian makeover was finally achieved in 2009. The pedestrianization of Herald, Madison and Union squares, as well as dozens of other pedestrian-oriented improvements across New York City, followed.

2009 1968 Plan2 View of Times Square

Times Square illustration from the Second Regional Plan

2009 Times Sq Angela N
Angela N.




A Transit-Oriented Future for Connecticut

Connecticut took steps to address its public transportation gaps at the turn of the century. In 2010, the Transit for Connecticut coalition commissioned a study by RPA that analyzed vehicle trip patterns to determine where additional public transit service might serve the most new riders. Around that same time, the New Haven - Hartford - Springfield corridor received High Speed Rail stimulus funding, and the Hartford - New Britain Busway was expected to receive federal New Starts funding. RPA argued that these two projects, along with other efforts statewide to expand bus and rail service, would provide Connecticut communities with a level of transit access that had been absent for generations. To reap the greatest economic, mobility, and environmental benefits, RPA stated that their implementation must go hand in hand with land use planning for transit-oriented and walkable downtowns and neighborhoods. It would help break the State’s dependence on cars and achieve carbon reduction goals.

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2010 Missing Links CT Bus Study 3
2010 Arc Region

Access to the Region's Core (ARC)

RPA supported Access to the Region’s Core (ARC), which would increase rail capacity under the Hudson River. RPA released several reports between 2003 and 2010 analyzing the project, including a statistical analysis that predicted that ARC would add a cumulative $18 billion to home values within two miles of NJ Transit and Metro-North Port Jervis and Pascack Valley train stations. Unfortunately, the ARC project was cancelled in 2010 by Governor Chris Christie.

read one of the reports


2011 RPA 4 RP 01 Banner SAS 0477 by MTA Patrick Cashin resized
Patrick Cashin

Upgrading to First Class: The Future of the Region's Airports

Upgrading to World Class” recommended adding new runways at both Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and John F. Kennedy International (JFK) airports in order to accommodate future demand. Guided by an Airport Stakeholders Group, the report looked at a wide variety of solutions, including improved technology for managing air space, diverting air passengers to Amtrak by improving intercity rail service, and making greater use of smaller regional airports. RPA suggested several land-side and ground access improvements, including a one-seat AirTrain ride from JFK to midtown Manhattan and rethinking the central terminal area at EWR. In 2018, RPA published a follow-up report delving deeper into how expansions could occur, calling for a dramatic reconfiguration of EWR and a number of feasible options for added runways at JFK.

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RPA Airports F01 Summary Recommendations
2011 Page164 20180128 EWR 4 RP Aerial Rendering Final lowres resized
James Klauder for the Fourth Regional Plan


2012 Spinlister brooklyn greenway 1

Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway

Since 2004, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) and RPA have advocated for the creation of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, miles of landscaped space that would connect four large parks and neighborhoods on the waterfront. In 2012, the NYC Department of Transportation announced an implementation plan for the Greenway. As of 2020, two segments, West Street in Greenpoint and Flushing Avenue near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, are in progress.

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2012 Us Fish Wildlife Sandy
US Fish and Wildlife Service
2012 Paterson Revitalization

Paterson Great Falls Arts + Revitalization Plan

In 2012, while plans for the nation’s 397th National Park in the Great Falls Historic District were being developed, RPA, the City of Paterson, and other key stakeholders produced a framework for how the arts could be integrated with park planning efforts. RPA worked with local residents and artists to brainstorm ideas, identified the most opportune areas for using the arts to revitalize the community, and laid out a set of implementable recommendations.

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Jamaica Bay Greenway and Water Trail

RPA and the National Park Service joined forces in 2011 to improve access to the Jamaica Bay Greenway and waterfront for neighboring communities. The Jamaica Bay Greenway, a 19-mile loop route in Brooklyn and Queens, would serve approximately 300,000 people who lived within a 20-minute walk as well as millions of annual visitors, connecting them to more than 10,000 acres of federal, state, and city parkland. The Jamaica Bay Greenway Coalition also organized bike and hike tours, and released a report on water trails in the Bay.

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2013 Jamaica Bay 20 DA2 6927 7 25 07 Kayaking in Jamaica Bay DA
2013 Hurricane Sandy damage Long Beach Island
Wikimedia Commons

Long Island's Rental Housing Crisis

The U.S’s first suburb went from being one of the most affordable places to raise a family to one of the least. In a 2013 report, RPA found that, more than any other part of the region, Long Island had far fewer rental homes and was building the fewest townhouses and apartments. Hurricane Sandy revealed how scarce rental apartments were as thousands of suddenly homeless residents had nowhere to go. RPA warned that the shortage of affordable rental homes was straining Long Island’s economy, and would make it much harder to compete for jobs in the years ahead.

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Getting Back on Track: Unlocking the Full Potential of the New Haven Line

In 2014, America’s busiest rail line was in trouble. The New Haven Line, a 60-mile stretch of track that carried commuters between New York City and Connecticut, suffered two major outages, including a collision that injured 76 people and an electrical outage that shut down service for more than two weeks. Getting Back on Track” documented the key issues affecting the New Haven Line and outlined the critical capital investments needed for it to reliably function again. While the State of Connecticut budgeted nearly $1 billion for the line in the 2013-2017 five-year capital plan, an analysis by RPA found that an additional $3.6 billion was needed by 2020 to repair or replace aging and obsolete infrastructure. This would improve the long-term strength and reliability of the rail line.

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2014 MNR New Haven Line Map

Accelerating the Transition to Communications-Based Train Control for New York City’s Subways

In the 2010s, the New York City transit signaling system relied primarily on century-old technology to keep trains running. In 2014, the MTA began converting to communications-based train control (CBTC), but the pace of change was slow. At the 2014 rate, a full transformation wouldn’t occur for more than 50 years. RPA’s report, Moving Forward,” showed that converting to CBTC could be done sooner with modifications to procurement rules and more flexibility to work on the tracks throughout the day. Since 2018, the MTA has worked to accelerate the adoption of CBTC.

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2014 Suffolk On Call

Suffolk County

Since 2014, RPA has worked on projects in Suffolk County that aim to foster transit-oriented development, diversify housing opportunities, and create safer, more walkable environments and downtowns. Locations include Amityville, West Babylon, and the Hauppauge Industrial Park.

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2014 TLS Paris DXR

Paris, France

2014 TLS Mexico City Justin Swan

Mexico City, Mexico

Justin Swan
2014 TLS Stockholm Blondin Rikard

Stockholm, Sweden

Blondin Rikard
2014 TLS Seoul traveloriented

Seoul, South Korea

travel oriented


A New L Train for New Yorkers

In the mid-2010s, the MTA considered shutting down the L train tunnel under the East River for more than a year to repair the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. RPA released a series of reports on the shutdown, including a community consensus proposal, which recommended a comprehensive investment plan to take advantage of a rare extended shutdown of one of the City’s busiest subway lines. RPA recommended that the MTA rebuild a quarter of L stations to modern standards, and make a series of additional investments to unlock the line’s capacity. In January 2019, less than four months before the shutdown was due to take effect, Governor Andrew Cuomo cancelled the MTA’s plan to close the L train tunnel for repairs and proposed an alternative plan. Under the new plan, the L train would run 24 hours, but service would be reduced on weeknights and weekends for repair work. Repairs to the tunnel were set to be completed by April 2020.

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RPA L Train Infographic v2 01
2016 L Train Platform4 RP

Buy-In for Buyouts: The Case for Managed Retreat from Flood Zones

Following Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, RPA prepared an in-depth study of buyouts as a tool for adaptation against flooding. Of the billions of federal aid spent on resilience and recovery in the New York metropolitan region, at least $750 million was spent on buyouts by 2014, which alleviated the flood risk for more than 1,500 homes. However, the vast majority of recovery efforts focused on other measures of adaptation. RPA provided an overview of flooding risk, a detailed summation of buyout programs in and outside of the region, quantitative analyses, and case studies of the fiscal impact of buyouts on selected communities. The research drew from original analysis, interviews with buyout program staff, planners, conservation experts, and other stakeholders, and a round table workshop hosted by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and RPA in December 2014.

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2016 buyouts hero alamy
David Grossman/Alamy
2016 East Harlem Affordable Housing

Preserving Affordable Housing in East Harlem

RPA worked with community members of East Harlem in Manhattan for more than a decade. In a 2016 report, RPA estimated that East Harlem could lose between 200 and 500 units of affordable housing each year over the next 30 years if existing programs were not extended or made permanent. In anticipation of East Harlem’s rezoning, a coalition requested RPA’s continued support and technical assistance as they developed their own neighborhood plan for East Harlem. Participants included more than 100 community-based organizations, more than 500 community residents, and over a dozen city agencies.

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State of the Region's Health

RPA’s First Regional Plan tied urban planning with public health outcomes. State of the Region’s Health” investigated the urban systems that influence residents’ health. RPA’s report analyzed health statistics in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as socioeconomic factors that impact health, such as transportation, housing, inequality, and resilient infrastructure systems.

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2016 RPA State of the Regions Health Infographic TRUNCATED
2016 Under Water
2016 underwater2


RPA AIA Exhibit 4 C City Corridor
RPA AIA Exhibit 4 C Coast Corridor
RPA AIA Exhibit 4 C Highlands Corridor
RPA AIA Exhibit 4 C Suburbs Corridor

Accessing Nature: Recommendations for a Tri-State Trail Network

Continuing its greenways work, RPA proposed an integrated regional network of nearly 1,650 miles of biking, hiking, and walking trails to connect people and open spaces in 2017. The tri-state trail would catalyze economic development and boost recreational opportunities, improving health and quality of life of residents, while enhancing biodiversity in the region. Several organizations began acquiring land to develop the tri-state trail towards the end of the decade.

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2017 The Tri State Trail Network

Pushed Out

Pushed Out” highlighted the negative impact of rising rents and neighborhood change on households in the region. RPA conducted interviews with low- and moderate-income residents in order to better understand current living conditions and experiences with displacement. This was paired with a detailed analysis of the region in order to determine where residents vulnerable to displacement lived, and what neighborhoods were experiencing price pressures and gentrification. RPA found that 46 percent of walkable, accessible neighborhoods in the region shifted towards a more expensive housing market, with significant increases in the proportion of homes renting for more than $2,000 or being valued at more than $500,000.

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2017 Pushed Out1

Regional Coastal Commission

With more than 3,700 miles of tidal coastline, the region’s states and local communities faced the daunting challenge of making the physical and regulatory changes necessary to adapt to sea level rise. Restoring wetlands, building sea walls, raising buildings, retrofitting infrastructure, and buying out vulnerable homeowners were among the actions that RPA recommended in 2017. RPA also called for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to create a Regional Coastal Commission (RCC). The commission would be empowered to help mobilize resources and coordinate regional strategies to address climate adaptation needs.

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2017 Coastal Adaptation copy
Bjarke Ingels Group
The Fourth Regional Plan

The Fourth Regional Plan

The Fourth Regional Plan sought to address issues including housing affordability, overburdened transportation infrastructure, and vulnerability to climate change by addressing underlying shortcomings in the region’s governance structures. Each of the plan’s 61 recommendations were evaluated for their ability to advance the plan’s four core values: equity, health, prosperity, and sustainability.
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video by Nate Dorr

The Fourth Regional Plan: Pledge for Equity

More than 150 organizations in the region signed a pledge to advocate for equity as the Fourth Regional Plan moved from idea to implementation. Signers agreed to further fair housing by both strengthening disadvantaged communities and opening up exclusionary places; make land use decisions more inclusively; reduce inequality by expanding access to economic opportunity; invest in transportation and lower costs for those with the least ability to pay; and create new relationships between communities, industry, and nature to provide dignified, productive, and ecologically sustainable livelihoods.

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Fast Forward

In May 2018, Andy Byford launched Fast Forward, a plan to completely modernize New York City Transit. RPA co-hosted an event at NYU School of Law for the report’s release, which echoed many of RPA’s recommendations in the Fourth Regional Plan.

read the event recap
2018 Fast Forward RPA NYU

Inclusive City

Following a year of meetings, a working group of more than 40 organizations and elected officials released a white paper containing recommendations on how to make New York City’s land use governance more inclusive, especially of community voices. The Inclusive City” report sparked a renewed conversation about comprehensive city planning in New York.

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2018 Report Cover inclusive City

Meadowlands as Climate Resilience Park

The Meadowlands are likely to be one of the first places in the region to be permanently inundated from sea-level rise. RPA advocated for the Meadowlands to become a climate resilience park, to demonstrate how properly managed natural landscapes could help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Recommendations included granting all applicable state-owned open space, natural lands, and waterways special designation, and working with government entities and property owners to acquire any high-priority, privately-held wetlands. This would help preserve and restore the Meadowlands’ natural habitats, protect nearby communities, and help make the Meadowlands a recreational resource for the entire region.

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2018 RPA 4 RP Render Flagship 04 Meadowlands 3 After Annotated
ORG Permanent Modernity for the Fourth Regional Plan

Public for Penn

RPA launched the Public for Penn coalition in 2018, building support for major infrastructure improvements at Penn Station. In January 2020, Governor Cuomo announced his Empire Station Complex plan, which included extending Penn Station one block south. Governor Cuomo’s plan reflected key recommendations of RPA’s Fourth Plan. To fully leverage added capacity at Penn, however, RPA maintained that it was still necessary to build new tunnels under the Hudson River.

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2018 Public For Penn Treasure Map Justin Winslow 021819

The High Cost of Bad Landlords

New York City has been gripped in a housing crisis. Homelessness almost doubled in 10 years, and more than 30 percent of renters paid more their half of their income in rents in the 2010s. The High Cost of Bad Landlords” sought to define who constituted a bad landlord and described the challenges they created for residents. RPA also found that bad landlords were not evenly distributed in the city. People living in buildings owned by landlords with high levels of evictions and violations were disproportionately concentrated in The Bronx, as well as in a few specific neighborhoods in the other boroughs.

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2018 Bad Landlords


2019 Plan Bridgeport Logo
Plan Bridgeport

Bridgeport as a Fourth Plan City

In its Fourth Regional Plan, RPA offered a vision for Bridgeport, Connecticut as a green and healthy regional center. In 2019, reflecting RPA’s longstanding partnership with the City, the Office of Planning and Economic Development published Plan Bridgeport, a 10-year comprehensive plan containing several guiding principles from the Fourth Plan.

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2019 Kate Slevin Congestion Pricing 2019

Congestion Pricing

For decades, RPA called for the implementation of congestion pricing, which is based on the principle that vehicles should be charged for the public costs that they impose. Pricing traffic congestion can create a more efficient transportation system, reduce air pollution, and achieve better public health outcomes. In 2019, RPA and other transit leaders celebrated the passage of historic congestion pricing legislation in New York. Just months after the bill was passed, RPA became the first organization to release a report about how to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan, with recommendations on system design, implementation, and pricing, including two-way tolling into the congestion zone, variable pricing throughout the day, and limiting exemptions. Two-way tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was approved by the MTA in March 2020, and the Biden administration allowed for an environmental assessment to proceed in March 2021. In June 2023, the MTA received a Finding of No Significant Impact from the U.S. Department of Transportation for congestion pricing, meaning that congestion pricing passed its final federal hurdle before being implemented in New York City.

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Healthy Regions Planning Exchange

RPA hosted the Healthy Regions Planning Exchange, a first-of-its-kind symposium convening 31 planners, public health officials, and community advocates from around the country to discuss how meaningful community partnerships inform better planning, and how race and racism shape planning, often to the detriment of communities of color. RPA’s work with the Planning Exchange continued through 2020, including webinars, discussions, and a second symposium in New Orleans, LA. The Exchange has since expanded, becoming a nationwide urban planning network consisting of 33 organizations from 11 regions. The group’s breadth of knowledge and experience will elevate best practices for addressing racial and health equity.

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2019 HRPE NOLA Group Photo1
2019 NYCHA IMG 9786

The Crisis at NYCHA

The rapidly deteriorating state of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), home to more than 400,000, became readily apparent in the late 2010s. It was estimated that, due to years of neglect and disinvestment, NYCHA needed $45 billion in capital repairs. As more news came out regarding the precarious state of NYCHA, RPA analyzed its physical infrastructure and finances. RPA’s 2019 report, Time to Act: Restoring the Promise of NYC’s Public Housing,” aimed to rapidly address NYCHA’s unmet capital needs, streamline and restructure systems of management and accountability to improve operations, and form a dynamic civic coalition to advocate for residents.

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2020 Triboro Map


Since its Third Regional Plan, RPA advocated for the creation of a rail line linking Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx to allow commuters to travel between boroughs without having to enter Manhattan. In January 2020, the MTA awarded engineering firm AECOM a $1.3 million contract to review the feasibility of the Triboro project. The study will investigate the potential for passenger transit alongside freight service.

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Equitable Adaptation

RPA and Make the Road New York kicked off a two-year series of listening sessions in 2018 to better understand the climate change challenges that MRNY members and the community at-large faced in Central Queens. RPA published adaptation strategies informed directly by residents in its 2019 Equitable Adaptation” report. The 2020 Climate Action Manual” picked up where that report left off, offering clear legislative and programmatic changes that residents and groups like MRNY could advocate for their elected officials to make at the city and state levels.

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2019 Equitable Adaptation2 Press Conference
2020 Assembly instagram

Reports for Recovery

RPA analyzed data on the COVID-19 crisis, advocated for federal recovery packages, and advanced policies for inclusive growth in support of an equitable recovery. Several reports were published in 2020 that addressed different elements of the crisis. They included supporting public transit for frontline workers and creating a protected bikeway network for NYC residents, developing more opportunities for affordable housing so that residents could safely shelter in place, and countering myths about the death of New York City with data and policy recommendations.

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2020 NY Comeback Cover

Black Lives Matter in Urban Planning

In June 2020, amid unrest after the killing of George Floyd and several others, RPA President & CEO Tom Wright released a statement on racial segregation, Black Lives Matter protests, and the urban planning’s field responsibility and response. The events of the past week are powerful reminders – which we should not have needed – that the physical fabric of a community is only as strong as the social contracts beneath it. That parks and housing and schools and jobs and transit need to be accessible and safe for everyone. And they aren’t. Not even close.”

read the statement


Ensuring an Equitable COVID-19 Recovery

The New York Metropolitan Region was the epicenter of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pandemic continues to expose gaping inequities in our society. Through reports, public events, media, and direct advocacy, RPA outlined how the region could recover from the health, economic, and social crises in an equitable way.

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Moynihan Train Hall was recognized at RPA’s 2021 benefit.

Alfresco Insta

Supporting Open Streets. Supporting Open Restaurants

RPA worked with Design Trust for Public Space and Tri-State Transportation Campaign to create Alfresco NYC, a non-profit coalition providing grants, support, and guidance to equitable Open Restaurants and Open Streets programs.

visit alfresco.nyc

Desegregating Connecticut

In January, RPA announced its partnership with DesegregateCT, a coalition of over 80 neighbors and nonprofits advocating for more equitable, affordable, and environmentally-sustainable land use policies in the state., DesegregateCT pushed for and shaped the major zoning reform bill HB6107 in the 2021 legislative session, which legalized accessory dwelling units (ADUs), removed the term​“community character” as a consideration in development applications, and required training for planning and zoning commissioners. In 2021, RPA served as DesegregateCT’s fiscal sponsor and provided planning and advocacy support, and in February 2022, DesegregateCT became an official program of RPA.

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Hurricane Mitigation

On the one-year and ten-year anniversaries of Hurricane Ida and Superstorm Sandy, respectively, RPA’s Preventing Another Ida report outlined how New York City and State should address the growing flood risks facing thousands of New Yorkers, especially those living in basement apartments. RPA helped develop legislation in New Jersey that would create new sources of state funding for resilience and participated in hearings in the New Jersey State Assembly. New Jersey also adopted the landmark Inland Flood Protection Rule, making it the first state to use predictive precipitation modeling to implement rules to inform and protect future development and redevelopment from the impacts of climate change.

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Image from Ida Flooding Housing video

Regional Plan Association also organized two hearings with the NJ State Assembly about pending legislation which RPA helped to develop that would create new sources of state funding for resilience and boost existing sources in honor of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

Housing Impacts of Hurricane IDA

Grand Central Gallery 4
Alexander Severin
Grand Central Gallery 11
Alexander Severin
Grand Central Gallery 19
Gus Powell
Renewable Rikers1

A Plan for Renewable Rikers

RPA commissioned a visioning for how the design of Rikers Island could look and function if transformed into a green energy hub, expanding on a recommendation of the Fourth Regional Plan. The report followed the 2021 passage of The Renewable Rikers Act, which put steps in place to close Rikers by August 2027.

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History of Parks and Open Spaces in New Jersey

Urban planning history in New Jersey has often focused on highways, housing initiatives, and development in major cities. Less attention has been paid to the history of parks and open space, which are critical elements of urban planning. As part of RPA’s Centennial and with support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, RPA organized three park and open space events in the Meadowlands, at Nat Turner Park in Newark, and at the Paterson Great Falls. Each event explored the history of the development of these sites and how stakeholders worked to preserve spaces that were meaningful for them and their communities.

Learn more about the events here


The Practice of Democracy: A View From Connecticut

RPA partnered with Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and The Housing Collective to create The Practice of Democracy: A View From Connecticut, an interactive, touring exhibit that examines how justice, equality, and power appear in our built environment. The exhibit connected the broader history of American democracy to local stories from Bridgeport, New Haven, and Norwalk to highlight the connection between democratic values and land use policies that have impacted these communities.

visit thepracticeofdemocracy.com
CT Housing Exhbit Postcard
RPA NJ Logo Artboard 1 copy 2

RPA NJ Reception

For the first time in decades, RPA hosted its New Jersey Reception and presented the inaugural James J. Florio Leadership Award to Kris Kolluri, CEO of the Gateway Development Commission.

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RPA Recognizes the Region's Governors

RPA presented the John E. Zuccotti Award at its 2023 annual Assembly to The Honorable Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York; The Honorable Ned Lamont, Governor of Connecticut; and The Honorable Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, in recognition of their dedication to the tri-state region.

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Regional Assembly 2023 248

Making Offshore Wind Transmission Work for Communities

RPA released Making Offshore Wind Transmission Work for Communities in June. The report incorporated the perspectives of various stakeholders in considering how to most smoothly implement the use of offshore wind as a renewable energy source in New York and New Jersey.

Offshore Wind Cover