NPC 1978 - New Orleans

NPC 1978 planner's riverboat tour

The first time a riverboat load of planners rode on the Mississippi River was in 1978. The SS President was loaded with 3,000 planners for the welcoming reception of a lifetime. Three bands, great Louisiana cuisine and lots of watering holes on each deck resulted in a "three hour cruise" that was talked about for decades. It was the National AIP Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans before the American Institute of Planners changed their name to APA. The theme was "Making Planning Work."

Thanks for the riverboat photo and remembrance from Stephen D. Villavaso, FAICP, J.D.

This note jogged the memory of former APA President Paul Farmer, FAICP who contributed the following recollection:

Yes, I was there in '78 and remember it well. You've inspired me to add a little memory lane info as well as compile some data on cities and NPC's.

My first NPC was the 1967 ASPO Conference in Houston. (And we'll finally be back in 2020-- we were supposed to be in Houston in 1988 but APA President Bruce McClendon got into a public spat with Houston's mayor over the lack of zoning and the APA Board moved the conference at the last minute to San Antonio.) In '67, I was in my last semester at Rice and one of my Archi profs said to me: "Paul, you're interested in this planning stuff, right? Did you know that there's a conference in town?"

My second national conference was AIP in Pittsburgh in 1968, where we founded the National Association of Student Planners (NASP). It remained the primary student planning organization until the mid-80's when APA got its act together and began its own student program. I was elected NASP's first president in '68 in the Hilton Hotel adjacent to Point State Park (under construction) in Pittsburgh and Yale's Harry Quintana was elected VP. Irv Hand was AIP's outgoing president and Alan Voorhees was incoming, so we worked with both of them, particularly Alan. He was very open to student involvement, even appointing students to AIP's Development Plan and Budget Committee for the first time.

By the early 70's, I had started my streak of "continuous" attendance, including '71, '78, '91, '01, and '10 in NOLA. I was selected as APA's CEO at the NPC in New Orleans in March of 2001--being selected while I was in my home state made it very special!

And one final bit of trivia (from the list on APA's website; and I hope that I have counted accurately): New Orleans will be only the 7th city to have hosted 6 or more NPC's, joining New York (currently leading everyone at 8, to be joined by SF next year and Boston in 2021), Washington and Chicago (7) and L.A. (6). According to the current schedule through 2024, Philadelphia and Minneapolis will join the (6) club in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Detroit, Cincinnati, and Denver. have each hosted (5) NPC's. Pittsburgh and Seattle round out the top 14 with 4 NPC's each. These are the only 14 cities that have hosted 4 or more NPC's, beginning with the first one in 1909 in Washington, D.C. APA traces its roots to that gathering of 43 planners. We'll see a few more in New Orleans in a couple of weeks!

But NOLA will have reached its 6th the fastest, having taken only 47 years from its 1st to its 6th. NYC was the first to reach its 6th but it took them 62 years from their 1st in 1925. It is quite possible that a few of you in New Orleans are in the very small group of planners since 1909 who have served on 4 (even 5?) NPC Local Host Committees! Thank you!

Paul Farmer, FAICP