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garden cities

garden cities. Planned estates had been built by Robert Owen and Titus Salt in the earlier 19th cent., and by the Cadbury family at Bournville in the 1880s. Garden cities were conceived by Ebenezer Howard. Impressed by a visit to the ‘garden city’ of Chicago and influenced by Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888), a futuristic look at Boston in the late 20th cent., Howard published Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform in 1898 (republished as Garden Cities of Tomorrow). Combining the ideologies of 19th-cent. social reformers and philanthropic industrialists, Howard sought to eradicate what he saw as the real cause of poverty, private landownership in the capitalist system. His plan was for limited-size cities built on municipally owned low-cost agricultural land. The centre of each city would be a garden, ringed by civil and cultural amenities, city hall, museum, library, and theatre. Shops and other facilities would be built under glass, with residential and industrial areas on the outer edges of the city. Howard envisaged clusters of garden cities, linked by railways, and powered by new low-pollution electricity. In 1899 the Garden City Association was inaugurated. In 1941 it was renamed the Town and Country Planning Association, having adopted in 1919 the definition: ‘a Garden City is a ”New” town designed for healthy living and industry; of a size that makes possible a full measure of social life … the land being in public ownership or held in trust for the community.’ Prototype garden cities were built at Letchworth from 1903 and Welwyn from 1919, greatly influencing the development of garden suburbs and the new towns built after the Second World War.

June Cochrane

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