Dallas’ Jason Roberts Among 100 ‘Most Influential’ Urbanists Ever

The co-founder of the Better Block Project is among an elite group of people from throughout history who have influenced urban life, Planetizen's readers say.

Roberts

Count a longtime Dallas urban advocate Jason Roberts among the 100 “Most Influential Urbanists” of all time as voted by readers of Planetizen.

Roberts, who ranked 95th on the list, is co-founder of the Better Block Project, founder of the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, and co-founder of the Art Conspiracy and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff.

He formed the nonprofit Oak Cliff Transit Authority in 2006 to revive the Dallas streetcar system. Later, he led the city’s effort in getting a $23 million TIGER stimulus grant from the Federal Transit Administration to aid in reintroducing a modern streetcar system to Dallas.

“Being mentioned on this list is a testament to our amazing community.”
Jason Roberts

“I’m completely floored and honored to even be mentioned among these names,” Roberts told Dallas Innovates. “I was repairing computers 10 years ago and working on neighborhood projects in the evenings just to get people to think differently about what we could accomplish as a neighborhood. Since that time, several people on that list (most of which I’d been studying and attempting to apply ideas from) have become close friends and collaborators.”

He credited the Oak Cliff community for his success.

“I never would have imagined that these projects we started in Oak Cliff would inspire people around the world and spread so quickly,” Robert said. “Being mentioned on this list is a testament to our amazing community.” 

Planetizen said the 100 people who made the final list is a mix of “contemporary thinkers, activists, planners, and designers.”

Roberts was joined on the initial ballot of 200 nominees by North Texas residents Shima Hamidi, director of the Insitute of Urban Studies and assistant professor of Urban Planning at the University of Texas at Arlington, and by Patrick Kennedy, a partner at Space Between Design Studio in Dallas. Kennedy also serves on the boards of Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Congress of New Urbanism.

Planetizen wasn’t kidding when it said “all time” for this ranking. The names on the list go back as 498 B.C. (Hippodamus of Miletus), and includes such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Michael Bloomberg, Walt Disney, Buckminster Fuller, Jimmy Carter, and others.

At No. 1 on the list was Jane Jacobs, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Planetizen said she was credited with nurturing a new era of community-led planning.

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