Essay about Ebenezer Howard and The Garden City Movement

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Ebenezer Howard and The Garden City Movement

Many would say that Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928) is the most important figure in the whole history of town-planning. He was born in London, but grew up in small English towns like Sudbury and Ipswich. At 21 he emigrated to America and tried to farm in Nebraska, but this was a failure.

From 1872 – 1876 he was in Chicago, where he became a shorthand writer. Chicago suffered a great fire in 1871, after which there was much rebuilding. It was known as the Garden City. It seems probable that he would have seen Frederick Law Olmsted’s garden suburb of Riverside being built outside the city. The Penguin Dictionary says that during his stay in America he
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· Advantages – social opportunity, employment, high wages, amusements.

· Disadvantages – foul air, high rents, slums, murky skies.


· Advantages – beauty of nature, bright sunshine, abundance of water, fresh air.

· Disadvantages – lack of society, long hours, low wages, lack of amusements.

Town Country:

· Advantages - beauty of nature, social opportunity, high wages, low rents, bright homes and gardens, no smoke, no slums etc.

The idea was that a group of people should establish a limited-dividend company which would borrow money to buy land outside the city at rock-bottom, depressed agricultural prices. The new city would have a fixed population limit – 32,000 people living on 1,000 acres of land, and it would be surrounded by 5,000 acres of green belt.

Howard also elaborated a polycentric vision – the Social City, in which a number of Garden Cities could be linked by inter-municipal railways and highroads. It must be stressed that these Garden Cities were not to be regarded as commuter settlements for a larger city. The idea was that each would be self contained in terms of housing, employment and essential amenities. Indeed, part of the vision was that as people moved out of existing conurbations, conditions
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