During the 1950s, León experienced accelerated sprawl caused by industrialization; the development of the shoemaking industry represented the principal economic engine and a major source of employment.
In the late 1960s, the need for urban planning first emerged, but it was not until 1976 that a National Urban Planning System, which provided the foundations for a method to manage orderly development, was created. Thus, in 1977 the municipality created the first urban planning agency in León.
In 1993 the mayor of the city traveled to Curitiba, Brazil, for a research meeting with government officials in order to learn about their urban planning system and determine a way to restructure León’s municipal planning system.
The Brazilian municipality, through the Urban Research and Planning Institute of Curitiba (IPPUC), had managed to further urban projects despite changes of administration by creating a “City Model.”
Curitiba created this Institute during the 1960s with the aim of implementing a Master Plan without time limitations and independent of election cycles. This facilitated the attraction and consolidation of investments that would result in better education, public services, transportation and quality of life.
In January 1994, the municipality of León changed the course of national urban planning as the first Municipal Institute of Urban Planning (IMPLAN) in Mexico was created.
By creating this Institute, León became the first city to establish an agency which, besides defining the city’s development, incorporates civic participation by having a Board of Directors with citizen members. This new structure marked a difference from the Brazilian Institute.