Letchworth: The First Garden City's Economic Function Transcribed From Theory to Practice


This paper traces the development and evolution of Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire, England, the first and most comprehensive attempt to actualize the amalgam of anarchist and utopian ideals on which Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City movement is based. Letchworth’s social and economic elements of integrated industry, agriculture, and cooperative land owner- ship eroded fairly quickly, leaving architectural and aesthetic concerns to dominate the Garden City’s legacy. This legacy resounds in contemporary discussions of property rights and New Urbanism, suggesting its pertinence to issues of place and community has endured across widely different contexts and time periods. With the erosion of the Garden City model’s founding ideologies, Letchworth demonstrates the tenacity of structural market and economic forces in guiding the implementation of planning projects.

About the Author

Katie O’Sullivan completed the Masters Program of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Albany, SUNY, specializing in transportation planning. She currently coordinates a Travel Demand Management project in Buffalo, New York. She has broad interest in planning theory and history, and agrees with Peter Hall’s statement that Ebenezer Howard is “the most important single character in this entire tale” of Cities of Tomorrow.