City and Regional Planning

Domenic Vitiello

Domenic Vitiello

Associate Professor


Courses Taught 

(recent syllabi are avaliable to download at the bottom or righthand side of this page)

Metropolitan Food Systems (CPLN 6210) - spring even numbered years 
Migration and Development (CPLN 6280) - spring odd numbered years 
The Immigrant City (URBS/SOCI 0270; LALS 0273) - spring 
The Urban Food Chain (URBS 0248) - fall 
Palermo: Urban Migration, the Built Environment, and Global Justice (URBS/ITAL 2950) - fall 2022


Research Interests

Immigrant and migrant communities 

Urban agriculture and food system planning

Urban and planning history 


Recent and current projects focus on:

Immigrant communities, civil society, and sanctuary, including: 

  • The Sanctuary City: Immigrant, Refugee, and Receiving Communities in Postindustrial Philadelphia (Cornell University Press, 2022), about Central American, Southeast Asian, Liberian, Arab, and Mexican communities' experiences in the Philadelphia region since the 1970s. This book is open access (free to download as an ebook or PDF). You can read Domenic's op-ed in the Washington Post about southern states busing and flights taking asylum seekers to sanctuary cities. 
  • Ongoing research on sanctuary cities in Italy and collaboration with migrant-led community associations in Sicily. In 2022-24, Domenic and City Planning Prof. Allison Lassiter are partnering with leaders of the Associazione Diaspore per la Pace and the city of Palermo's elected migrants' council, the Consulta delle Culture, to support capacity building among migrant-led associations working on community development and environmental planning in their home towns and regions in Africa, South Asia, and other regions. 
  • Ongoing research on the destruction, preservation, and neighborhood change in Chinatowns in the US and Canada with Penn students and partners including Asian Americans United (Philadelphia), the Chinese Progressive Association and Greater Boston Legal Services (Boston), and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (New York). Listen to Domenic and Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation director John Chin discuss Philadelphia's Chinatown; and read about Domenic's research with Penn Urban Studies alum Arthur Acolin on property ownership and neighborhood change in Boston and Philadelphia. 
  • Recent research on African property ownership in Philadelphia and capacity-building with ACANA CDC in Southwest Philadelphia. 
  • Read Domenic's essays on immigration and community development in the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia and PlanPhilly.

Urban agriculture and poverty in the global North and South, including: 

  • Comparative research on the community economic development impacts of urban farming and gardening around the world, with Penn MCP and PhD students.  
  • A book project with Urban Studies Prof. Michael Nairn, entitled Everyday Urban Agriculture, on the social impacts of community gardening in Camden, Chicago, and Philadelphia, based on 15 years of research and practice. Read reports on research in the U.S. and student work on urban agriculture and community food systems and Domenic's most recent article on the ways urban agriculture has been valued and supported in recent decades in Philadelphia and Chicago. 


Selected Publications


Domenic Vitiello, The Sanctuary City: Immigrant, Refugee, and Receiving Communities in Postindustrial Philadelphia (Cornell University Press, 2022). Open access (free) - click here to download the entire book as an ebook or PDF (or click here to download PDFs of individual chapters). 

Domenic Vitiello and Zoe Blickenderfer (Penn Urban Studies alum), "The Planned Destruction of Chinatowns in the United States and Canada since c.1900," Planning Perspectives (2020). 

Domenic Vitiello, "Sanctuary and the City," The Metropole (2019). 

Arthur Acolin (Penn Urban Studies alum) and Domenic Vitiello, "Who Owns Chinatown: Neighborhood Change and Preservation in Boston and Philadelphia," Urban Studies (2018). 

Domenic Vitiello and Arthur Acolin, “Institutional Ecosystems of Housing Support in Chinese, Southeast Asian, and African Philadelphia,” Journal of Planning Education and Research (2017).

Domenic Vitiello and Thomas J. Sugrue, editors, Immigration and Metropolitan Revitalization in the United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). Chapter 9 by Domenic Vitiello and Rachel Van Tosh (Penn Master of City Planning alum), “Liberian Reconstruction, Transnational Development, and Pan-African Community Revitalization."

Food and Urban Agriculture:

Domenic Vitiello, "'The highest and best use of land in the city': Valuing Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia and Chicago," Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (2022). open access - free to download

Domenic Vitiello, Jeane Ann Grisso, Rebecca Fischman (Penn Master of City Planning alum), and K. Leah Whiteside (Penn Master of City Planning alum), “From Commodity Surplus to Food Justice: Food Banks and Local Agriculture in the United States,” Agriculture and Human Values (2015).

Domenic Vitiello and Catherine Brinkley (Penn Planning PhD alum), “The Hidden History of Food System Planning,” Journal of Planning History (2014). Honorable mention for best article in the journal, 2013-2015.

Domenic Vitiello and Laura Wolf-Powers, “Growing Food to Grow Cities? The Potential of Agriculture for Local Economic Development in the Urban United States,” Community Development Journal (2014).

Urban and Planning History:

Domenic Vitiello, “Infrastructure: Lifelines, Mobility, and Urban Development,” in Planning History Handbook, edited by Carola Hein (Routledge, 2017).

Domenic Vitiello, Engineering Philadelphia: The Sellers Family and the Industrial Metropolis (Cornell University Press, 2013).

Domenic Vitiello, “Monopolizing the Metropolis: Gilded Age Growth Machines and Power in American Urbanization,” Planning Perspectives (2013).  Winner of the prize for best article in the journal, 2012-14.

Degrees and Experience

B.A. in Archaeology, Wesleyan University
M.C.P. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. in History, University of Pennsylvania

Domenic and his students have worked with numerous community organizations in the Philadelphia region, Sicily, and transnationally, helping design, implement, and evaluate programs and cooperative enterprises with community development corporations, migrant associations, immigrant and refugee resettlement agencies, and food and urban agriculture organizations.  He has served on the boards of the African Cultural Alliance of North America, JUNTOS/Casa de los Soles, Philadelphia Orchard Project, and presently the International Planning History Society and the Society for American City and Regional Planning History.  Domenic is Editor for the Americas for the world's leading urban history journal Urban History.