Yeah but they didn't directly design cities the way a top-down developer would do. They are some planned communities in US. I live next to one, and it is a different feel to it definitely. But it is not a common thing at all.
At the federal level there are tax incentives and credits and subsidies and those affect everything but it is still very much a local "maximize my profit" kind of deal. Uncle Sam doesn't care if there are enough play grounds or parks for given area and population density.
I think that you are trying to say that the incentives (say cheap mortgages) and subsidies for oil and car manufacturers resulted in suburban sprawl? But that's more of a nasty side-effect than a direct policy or law. In other words we got the bad part of top-down influence without the good part of it.
> Bottom-up planning example would be post-USSR where people converted community gardens into suburbs on their own.
I jokingly say that overnight they become more capitalist and laissez faire than most countries in the West.
Top-down developer can design it any way he wants. Top-down just means it's planned and not anarchistic like in ex-USSR.
Even policy of not enforcing parks, playground or allowing lesser population density is top-down development. Policy of building highways to accommodate sprawl is top-down as well.
Meanwhile bottom-up in ex-USSR style means ex-community gardens converted into suburbs without central water/sewage, no proper road network etc. While some developers put in over-the-top density highrises in questionable locations. Again, without proper infrastructure to support them. In both cases, it's incentives from people or developers without any support and sometimes even acknowledgement from the government.
> I jokingly say that overnight they become more capitalist and laissez faire than most countries in the West.
I'd say that with 100% straight face. We're definitely much more capitalist than western europe and definitely competing with US on many fronts.
There can be even more structure, but when a town or city simply blocks medium density residential structures, that's pretty top down.