The Garden city movement is an approach to urban planning that was founded in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained, communities surrounded by greenbelts, containing carefully balanced areas of residences, industry, and agriculture.
Inspired by the Utopian novel Looking Backward, Howard published his book To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform in 1898 (which was reissued in 1902 as Garden Cities of To-morrow). His idealised garden city would house 32,000 people on a site of 6,000 acres (24,000,000 m2), planned on a concentric pattern with open spaces, public parks and six radial boulevards, 120 ft (37 m) wide, extending from the centre. The garden city would be self-sufficient and when it reached full population, a further garden city would be developed nearby. Howard envisaged a cluster of several garden cities as satellites of a central city of 50,000 people, linked by road and rail.
Howard organized the Garden City Association in 1899. Two garden cities were founded on Howard's ideas: Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City, both in Hertfordshire, England. Howard's successor as chairman of the Garden City Association was Sir Frederic Osborn, who extended the movement to regional planning.
The idea of the Garden city was influential in the United States. Examples are: the Woodbourne neighborhood of Boston; Newport News, Virginia's Hilton Village; Pittsburgh's Chatham Village; Garden City, New York; Sunnyside, Queens; Jackson Heights, Queens; Forest Hills Gardens, also in the borough of Queens, New York; Radburn, New Jersey; the Lake Vista neighborhood in New Orleans; Norris, Tennessee; Baldwin Hills Village in Los Angeles; and the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights. In Canada, the Ontario towns of Kapuskasing and Walkerville are, in part, garden cities.
In Australia, the suburb of Colonel Light Gardens in Adelaide, South Australia, was designed according to garden city principals. So too the town of Sunshine, which is now a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria.
The Garden city movement also influenced the Scottish urbanist, Sir Patrick Geddes, in the planning of Tel-Aviv, Israel in the 1920s, during the British Mandate. Geddes started his Tel Aviv plan in 1925 and submitted the final version in 1927, so all growth in this garden city during the 1930s was merely "based" on the Geddes Plan. Changes were inevitable.
Smaller developments were also inspired by the Garden city movement and were modified to allow for residential "garden suburbs" without the commercial and industrial components of the garden city. They were built on the outskirts of cities, in rural settings. Some notable examples being, in London, Hampstead Garden Suburb and the 'Exhibition Estate' in Gidea Park and, in Liverpool, Wavertree Garden Suburb. The Gidea Park estate in particular was built in two main bursts of activity, 1911, and 1934. Both gave birth to some fine examples of domestic architecture, by such luminaries as Wells Coates and Berthold Lubetkin. Thanks to such strongly conservative local residents associations as the Civic Society, both Hampstead and Gidea Park retain much of their original character.
One unique example of a garden suburb is the Humberstone Garden Suburb in the United Kingdom by the Humberstone Anchor Tenants association in Leicestershire and it is the only garden suburb ever to be built by the members of a workers co-operative and it remains intact to this present day. In 1887 the workers of the Anchor shoe company in Humberstone formed a workers cooperative and built 97 houses.
Contemporary town-planning charters like New Urbanism and Principles of Intelligent Urbanism find their origins in this movement. Today, there are many garden cities in the world. Most of them however have devolved to exist as just dormitory suburbs, which completely differ from what Howard set out to create.
The Town and Country Planning Association recently marked its 108th anniversary by calling for Garden City and Garden Suburb principles to be applied to today's New Towns and Eco-towns in the United Kingdom.
Developments influenced by the Garden city movement
Related urban design concepts: