“Garden Cities of Tomorrow” by Ebenezer Howard

garden city picture

I have provided this text to illustrate that there are good ideas which may have been lost to corruption of ideal and personal greed, but which we should revive. The early success of the “Garden City” project perfectly illustrates that change can come, and innovation succeed.  That this book was conceived of over a century ago and still presents such a compelling and inspiring vision – and very relevant – it is highly deserving of merit.  For even those established towns and cities there are valuable principles which we should recognise in all planning matters.

“In these days of strong party feeling and of keenly-contested social and religious issues, it might perhaps be thought difficult to find a single question having a vital bearing upon national life and well-being on which all persons, no matter of what political party, or of what shade of sociological opinion, would be found to be fully and entirely agreed. … Religious and political questions too often divide us into hostile camps; and so, in the very realms where calm, dispassionate thought and pure emotions are the essentials of all advance towards right beliefs and sound principles of action, the din of battle and the struggles of contending hosts are more forcibly suggested to the onlooker than the really sincere love of truth and love of country which, one may yet be sure, animate nearly all breasts.

There is, however, a question in regard to which one can scarcely find any difference of opinion. It is well- nigh universally agreed by men of all parties, not only in England, but all over Europe and America and our colonies, that it is deeply to be deplored that the people should continue to stream into the already over-crowded cities, and should thus further deplete the country districts.

All, then, are agreed on the pressing nature of this problem, all are bent on its solution, and though it would doubtless be quite Utopian to expect a similar agreement as to the value of any remedy that may be proposed, it is at least of immense importance that, on a subject thus universally regarded as of supreme importance, we have such a consensus of opinion at the outset. This will be the more remarkable and the more hopeful sign when it is shown, as I believe will be conclusively shown in this work, that the answer to this, one of the most pressing questions of the day, makes of comparatively easy solution many other problems which have hitherto taxed the ingenuity of the greatest thinkers and reformers of our time. Yes, the key to the problem how to restore the people to the land — that beautiful land of ours, with its canopy of sky, the air that blows upon it, the sun that warms it, the rain and dew that moisten it — the very embodiment of Divine love for man — is indeed a Master-Key, for it is the key to a portal through which, even when scarce ajar, will be seen to pour a flood of light on the problems of intemperance, of excessive toil, of restless anxiety, of grinding poverty — the true limits of Governmental interference, ay, and even the relations of man to the Supreme Power.

Whatever may have been the causes which have operated in the past, and are operating now, to draw the people into the cities, those causes may all be summed up as “attractions “; and it is obvious, therefore, that no remedy can possibly be effective which will not present to the people, or at least to considerable portions of them, greater “attractions ” than our cities now possess, so that the force of the old “attractions” shall be overcome by the force of new “attractions” which are to be created. Each city may be regarded as a magnet, each person as a needle; and, so viewed, it is at once seen that nothing short of the discovery of a method for constructing magnets of yet greater power than our cities possess can be effective for redistributing the population in a spontaneous and healthy manner.”

This is just a taster but it has certainly been an inspirational read for me, not just a reinforcement of my current views but a venerable grounding in principles and a framework for my thoughts….thank you Ebenezer sir.

 

garden city plan

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