This book addresses the difficulty of the present situation of the European cities in a wider historical and geographical context. Backed by wide research and many case studies, the author shows that many problems of the present have also been there in the cities of the past, be it depopulation and ageing, congestion and expansion, growth and decline. In the present radical change of the determinants of planning this is of particular importance because it puts the often short-sighted daily business of planning into a historical and geographical perspective and lets some of its old and well known questions appear in a new light. Does increasing residential densities really lead to the expected reduction of overall urban use? Is there a close connection between residential density and the age structure of the residents? Will urban growth be the exception in the future? Supported by a wide range of information, this book not only gives answers to these questions but also provides the stimulus for a more thoughtful study of planning practice and for further research in the wider field of historical and geographical comparisons of urban development.