Ebenezer Howard

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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.

Ebenezer Howard (29 January 18501 May 1928) was a prominent British town planner famous for his publication Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898), prescribing utopian cities in which man lives harmoniously together with the rest of nature. The publication led to the founding of the Garden city movement, that realized several Garden Cities in Great Britain at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

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Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898)[edit]

First published as To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898); in it's second edition it was renamed Garden Cities of To-morrow (1902)
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
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.
  • 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.
    • Introduction
  • 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.
    • Introduction
  • 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.
    • Introduction

Quotes about Howard[edit]

  • Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier responded to social conditions which were, in many respects, worse than our own by detaching themselves from immediate action to devote thousands of hours to their urban utopias. But detachment is not necessarily escapism; for the three planners believed that before they could take effective action they had to stage a strategic withdrawal into their own minds. They wanted to escape from the inevitable limitations of short-term solutions devised for particular cities. Instead, they tried to consider the urban problem as a whole. They wanted to comprehend the logic of the twentieth-century city, its inherent structure, and its most efficient form. They attempted to look beyond the distortions that an inhumane social order had imposed upon the cities of their time, and to envision a city based on social justice and equality.
    • Robert Fishman, in Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century: Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and le Corbusier (1977)

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