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Urban Planning: “Chinatown” Film

Urban planning entails the development of the approaches to facilitate the development and the design of the cities. Besides, this term refers to the analysis of different environmental, economic and social trends about different land uses. The significance of the urban planners today is recognizable with the emergence of the problems such as unsustainable development and population growth. Such planning entails creation of a fresh city open space to reduce congestion. These changes also include planning more trees to bring out the beautiful design and nature in the city. This paper will focus on the planning issues as shown in the Chinatown film (Levy, 2013). The movie’s central theme is how the city planners tapped water to the north from a particular river. After the destruction of the valley, the people had no choice but to move out. Los Angeles, however, experienced improvements, especially in the desert. This success is due to grabbing of water by corrupt politicians. Some of the issues facing the urban planning shown in the film include water, politics of planning, urban and sustainable growth, transportation, preservation of farmland, and the emergence of suburban neighborhoods.

The Issue of Water

Water is crucial in cities because it is essential for its functioning and development. Water creates a situation where particular issues such as climate change and energy efficiency are dealt within the cities. Urban planning as depicted in Chinatown is fundamental for the growth of infrastructure and other institutions. Therefore, water management is a problem raised in the film, because some powerful and corrupt politicians siphoned it for self-gain. The movie depicts a situation in which the American society yearns for efficient water systems for irrigation (Levy, 2013). However, the Cross quit Hollis Mulwray because of his interference in the provision of a reservoir. Besides, Russ Yelburton opts to go against the people to achieve more power over the water. Such situation reveals the poor water management in Los Angeles despite its growing from a desert into a metropolis.

Politics in Planning

There are various political ideologies when it comes to urban planning. Most politicians or concerned authorities share different views, some of which are with self-interests. Chinatown film depicts the non-existence of the real leaders; it is just a myth. The authorities are shown to care less about the people’s interests (Levy, 2013). For instance, this characteristic is revealed by Cross, who does not possess any official position in Chinatown but has illegally used his money and exploited his employees. Similarly, ieutenant Escobar who is supposed to maintain law and order engages in corrupt deals and allows crime to go unpunished.

Urban Growth and Suburbanization

Urban growth is an issue that most cities face today because of the various challenges. For instance, there is a high population growth resulting in congestion, high crime rates, and inadequate housing. All these challenges affect the rate of growth; hence, it is extremely important to deal with them to guarantee sustainability. Chinatown shows the growth of Los Angeles from a small town into a huge one. The people are unaware of the level of corruption that has its roots in Chinatown and impact on their lives. Besides, Evelyn decides to act as if she had no idea of her husband’s mistress. Ida, on the other hand, acts innocent to the crimes she committed and because of this, she remains oblivious to the looming danger to her life (Levy, 2013). The movie producer, Polanski, reveals the negative consequences of the ignorance of the crimes made; he demonstrates that these effects are inevitable in Chinatown. It goes to show that, for the urban growth and the suburbanization to emerge, there is the need for people to ensure justice and fairness. When planning for cities, there is a need for proper consideration of the creation of strict law and order systems and institutions.


For sustainability and growth of the urban areas, there should be clear and proficient infrastructure such as roads. Transportation is an issue facing most cities; therefore, during theurban planning, the authorities should be keen on this issue (Shiel & Fitzmaurice, 2011). In case, there are poor roads, most goods will not reach the market in time, and other services will not be rendered in the different places; such situations show the various factors that hinder urban growth and sustainability.

Preservation of Farm Land

Urban planning should also consider the protection of the farmlands. The point is that these plots will act as a source of food for the city residents. Urban sprawl is a primary challenge and the import of the food cannot be a solution for the limited supply. The movie Chinatown depicts in the San Fernando Valley, orchards that had no water supply. The reason is that it was cut off so that farmers move out. Due to their corrupt ways, they would push for more profits. The developers did this through subdivision of the valley which resulted in the creation of the suburban neighborhoods. Therefore, the urban planners need to encourage people to retain their lands for farming and avoid cheap sales to developers (Shiel & Fitzmaurice, 2011).

The governmments should come up with by-laws or property tax incentives to motivate the farmers to continue supplying agricultural commodities rather than being deceived by the corrupt developers. The call for proper planning is the only determinant of success in the majority of the cities. It reduces the chances of emergence of other challenges that accompany food scarcity. Furthermore, the existence of the farm lands would ensure less pollution and conservation of the environment. This is vital because with the increase of the urban areas, the developers start building more factories that only result in the environmental degradation. Moreover, the emergence of industries would motivate people to come to the cities in search of the jobs (Shiel & Fitzmaurice, 2011). However, this results in congestions, poor living conditions, and inaccessibility to basic needs. Availability of the farmlands helps in maintaining food supply to the city residents and reduction of global warming.

Emergence of Suburban Neighborhoods

The introduction of water in the San Fernando Valley resulted in the advent of suburban neighborhoods. However, in this case, the people were at a risk of eviction any time because of the corrupted authorities. The suburban areas according to Chinatown movie emerged due to the developments in Los Angeles. These suburbs may result in urban problems, for instance, crimes. Urban planners, in this case, should consider the impact of these suburbs to the city and the strategies of maintaining them. The film shows the growth of these neighborhoods around Chinatown. It is important for planners to encourage people to establish quality houses and give the cities more beauty (Shiel & Fitzmaurice, 2011).The reason is that these suburbs act as residential places for most people working in the city; it is vital that they get proper planning. The plan today is to alter these suburbs into more social spaces for interactions and meetings.


Produced in 1974, Chinatown is a movie that depicts the different issues facing urban areas. Some of the problems act as factors that urban planners should consider. The important factors depicted in the film include water, urban growth, and politics of planning among others. These issues, if not addressed when planning for a city, may cripple major functions and living conditions of the people. Corruption and other criminal act hinder the success of the urban areas. Politicians with corrupt ideologies fill the cities and contaminate the moral values. It is also a reason the public does not try to tackle the issue because of the power and control that these politicians have in government.



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