A civil engineer who's made waves nationally with his ideas will be in York next week to host a public conversation about the challenges facing modern American cities.

Charles Marohn is the executive director of Strong Towns, a Minnesota-based nonprofit he founded three years ago after his blog about urban planning gained national attention.

York is one of a dozen stops on a Pennsylvania tour that starts Monday. Private donors are funding the trip.

Other Pennsylvania cities on the Strong Towns tour include Philadelphia, Media, Scranton, Easton, Lower Macungie Township, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Hershey, Pittsburgh and Braddock.

Marohn said he received an outpouring of interest from Pennsylvanians after he wrote about the city of Chester.

Across the state, he'll be giving a presentation, called a Curbside Chat, about the reasons so many American cities face financial insecurity.

"We have a conversation about the finances of our place, the way we build them, the reason why our cities are now all financially struggling," he said.

The details: Marohn will appear in York from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the York County Heritage Trust, 250 E. Market St. The event is free and open to the public.

He said his ideas are based on the theory that modern-day problems can be traced to the post-World War II era.

At that time, in an unprecedented way, Americans built their towns and cities based on the movement of automobiles, Marohn said.


"We took our old neighborhoods and our historic towns and the countrysides on the edge of town and re-engineered, re-configured them all for automobile travel. That gave us some immediate prosperity," Marohn said.

But it's unsustainable, he said, and a major cause of the problems we now face.

"It's all just like a race to the bottom. We literally need to stop and change direction in terms of how we're building our places," Marohn said. "We lay this out, we give some examples, we point out the problem, and then we kind of go through some of the things that we can start to do to correct it."

-- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.