garden city (in city planning)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

garden city (in city planning)

garden city, an ideal, self-contained community of predetermined area and population surrounded by a greenbelt. As formulated by Sir Ebenezer Howard, the garden city was intended to bring together the economic and cultural advantages of both city and country living, with land ownership vested in the community, while at the same time discouraging metropolitan sprawl and industrial centralization. The open layout of the garden city has had a great influence on the development of modern city planning.

The garden city was foreshadowed in the writings of Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, and James Silk Buckingham, and in the planned industrial communities of Saltaire (1851), Bournville (1879), and Port Sunlight (1887) in England. The term garden city was introduced in Howard's book To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898); it was revised (1902) under the title Garden Cities of To-morrow (reedited by F. J. Osborn, 1946). Howard organized the Garden-City Association (1899) in England and secured backing for the establishment of Letchworth (1903), designed by the architects Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, and Welwyn Garden City (1920), designed by Louis de Soissons. Neither community, however, was an entirely self-contained garden city.

The idea spread rapidly to Europe and the United States, but it commonly resulted in residential suburbs of individually owned homes. Under the auspices of the Regional Planning Association of America, the garden-city idea was more fully realized in the community of Radburn, N.J. (1928–32) outside New York City designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright. Most of these satellite towns, however, failed to attain Howard's ideal, since local industries were unable to provide employment for the inhabitants, many of whom commuted to work in larger centers. The congestion and destruction accompanying World War II greatly stimulated the garden-city movement, especially in Great Britain, where the passage of the New Towns Act in 1946 led to the development of more than a dozen new communities based on Howard's idea. The idea was revived in Britain on a smaller scale in 2014 as part of attempt to ease a housing shortage.

See F. J. Osborn, Green-Belt Cities: The British Contribution (1946). M. H. Smith, History of Garden City (1963); W. L. Creese, The Search for Environment (1966).

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