James C. O’Connell, PhD, FAICP

Lecturer James C. O’Connell, PhD


Urban History; Metropolitan Boston Planning and Development; Urban and Regional Planning; Heritage Planning


UA 510: Special Topics: The Planning and Development of Metropolitan Boston
UA 510: Special Topics: Global Cities- Through Boston’s Experience
UA 510: Special Topics: Globalization: Pandemics and Planning


MA, PhD, Urban History, University of Chicago.
BA, Bates College


Jim O’Connell has worked as a Community Planner at the Boston Office of the Northeast Region of the National Park Service, where he specialized in planning for historic sites and heritage areas. Previously, Jim served as Economic Development Officer of the Cape Cod Commission, the regional planning and land use regulatory agency for Cape Cod. In Springfield, MA, his positions included Deputy Executive Director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority and Executive Director of the Hampden County Energy Office.

Jim has written six books and many articles on planning and New England history. His books include The Hub’s Metropolis: Greater Boston’s Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth (MIT Press), Dining Out in Boston: A Culinary History (University Press of New England), Becoming Cape Cod: Creating a Seaside Resort (University Press of New England), and Shaping an Urban Image: Downtown Planning in Springfield, Massachusetts (Connecticut Valley Historical Museum). He also contributed to A Landscape History of New England (MIT Press) and Remaking Boston: An Environmental History of the City and Its Surroundings (Massachusetts Historical Society & University of Pittsburgh Press). He has written essays on regional planning and civic leadership for Governing Greater Boston, a public policy review published by the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Jim currently serves as chair of the Massachusetts Zoning Reform Working Group, which has developed model state zoning legislation. He has been a member of the Newton Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. Besides teaching at Boston University, he has taught Smart Growth Planning in the Sustainable Design Program at the Boston Architectural College and Urban Planning at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Contact Information:

Phone: (857) 231-1129
Email: jimyoc@bu.edu