This publication portrays one of Africa’s most important urbanized regions, which is today changing its role from the capital to a continental city. In an attempt to maintain its primary position, following a multi-ethnic state project, it is positioning itself as a political-cultural point of reference for a continent with growing economic and demographic performance. This change in role has led to a profound and rapid urban transformation. In just fifteen years, skyscrapers, shopping centers, and luxury residential complexes have replaced traditional buildings in key areas of the city center, while numerous residential complexes have radically redesigned the city’s suburbs. Opinions on this change differ between those who speak of an urban transformation unparalleled in Africa and those who argue that these are social experiments that negatively affect the poor. However, this comparison pays little attention to what Addis Ababa was in the past: a unique city in the African landscape in terms of its foundation, evolution, and politics. The text, after tracing a picture of the changes underway, analyzes these aspects with a meticulous historical review of the relationship between urban development and planning, focusing in particular on the 1980s, a turning point in the urban history of the city and the end of a long cycle of politics. The experience of the Addis Ababa Master Plan Project Office (AAMPPO, 1983-85), with its regional scope, represented the last attempt at integrated management of urban-rural relations in a world that still believed in the synergies between tradition and modernity. This publication has academic value and is especially of interest to researchers interested in exploring the contemporary history of Addis Ababa and those involved in urban planning and management in Africa.