Monday, March 24, 2008

My Town Monday - Sir Ebenezer Howard

After thinking long and hard about what I can tell you about my town, I have decided to do some research and tell you all about the original founder and how our town came about.

Welwyn Garden City is the second 'Garden City' The first one being a few miles away, Letchworth Garden City. The concept of the town was bought about by the work of a prominent urban planner, Sir Ebenezer Howard.

Howard read widely, including Edward Bellamy's 1888 Utopian novel Looking Backward and thought deeply about social issues.
One result was his book (1898) titled To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real reform which was reprinted in 1902 as Garden Cities of To-Morrow. This book offered a vision of towns free of slums and enjoying the benefits of both town (such as opportunity, amusement and high wages) and country (such as beauty, fresh air and low rents). He illustrated the idea with his famous Three Magnets diagram (pictured), which addressed the question 'Where will the people go?', the choices being 'Town', 'Country' or 'Town-Country' - the Three Magnets.

It called for the creation of new suburban towns of limited size, planned in advance, and surrounded by a permanent belt of agricultural land. These Garden cities were used as a role model for many suburbs. Howard believed that such Garden Cities were the perfect blend of city and nature. The towns would be largely independent, and managed and financed by the citizens who had an economic interest in them.

His ideas attracted enough attention and financial backing to begin Letchworth Garden City, a suburban garden city north of London A second garden city, Welwyn Garden City, was started after World War I. The creation of Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City were influential in the development of "New Towns" after World War II by the British government.


Walt Disney used elements of Howards's concepts in his original design for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).

If only I had known, may have saved me a few trips to Disney over the years!!! (Mind you he wasn't responsible for Tower of Terror and Space Mountain though!!)

This is what is so exciting about doing my town Monday, I now know that Vincent Van Gogh came to town AND Ebenezer Howard was influential in some of the design of EPCOT - Brilliant!!


Debbielou said...

That's brilliant!! It will save us a fortune on our next holiday.

We're all learning new stuff about our tons every week - it's great !

I loved the Walt Disney Carousel of Life (?) " It's a great big beautiful tomorrow -la la la la la la la la la !!!"

Travis Erwin said...

Very interesting. Every town in my area is surrounded by agriculture belts so to speak.

The Anti-Wife said...

So we have Howard to thank for suburban sprawl? Oh well. It's better than everyone living in little highrise boxes in the city. Interesting post!

WordVixen said...

Ah... Bohemian Rhapsody....

Oh yeah, the topic! While Disney didn't survive to build his dream for Epcot, the imagineers did take some of it into consideration when designing the park. Supposedly, they felt that no one could produce such a city as Walt had dreamt of, and so did not attempt to build it with their assumption of failure.

However, Celebration (very near WDW) is a town owned by Disney, and seems to incorporate many of the ideas that intrigued Walt. Since I've never been to either one, I can only guess that there may be similarities between your town and Celebration.

I still think it's an awesome concept!

lyzzydee said...

I have been to celebration and there are similarities!! I am off to reseach the place now!!

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow...Informative post! Thanks for the info. :) Sorry for the delay in this visit, but I was oppressed by mundania & back problems for a while. Better now, though! Write on. :)

punknscrap said...

Another cool town fact, thanks Lyzzy.

Kim Marie said...

Catching up on my blog surfing! This is so COOL to read! How fun is that?!?! Makes me want to do some research!!
thanks for sharing!
Kim Marie