Sir Ebenezer Howard OBE (29 January 1850 – 1 May 1928) is known for his publication Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898), the description of a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature. The publication resulted in the founding of the garden city movement, that realised several Garden Cities in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century. This movement influenced the development of several model suburbs such as Forest Hills Gardens designed by F. L. Olmsted Jr. in 1909, Radburn NJ (1923) and the Suburban Resettlement Program towns of the 1930s (Greenbelt, Maryland, Greenhills, Ohio, Greenbrooke, New Jersey and Greendale, Wisconsin).
His great-granddaughter is the actor, dancer and TV personality Una Stubbs; other direct descendants of Howard include his cricket manager grandson Geoffrey Howard, as well as another great-granddaughter, the poet and publisher Joy Bernadine Howard.
Howard was born in Fore Street, City of London, the son of a shopkeeper. He was sent to schools in Suffolk and Hertfordshire, and subsequently had several clerical jobs, including one with Dr Parker of the City Temple. In 1871, at the age of 21, influenced partly by a farming uncle, Howard emigrated with two friends to America. He went to Nebraska, but soon discovered that he did not wish to be a farmer. He then relocated to Chicago and worked as a reporter for the courts and newspapers. In the U.S. he became acquainted with, and admired, poets Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Howard began to ponder ways to improve the quality of life.
Influences and ideas
Howard read widely, including Edward Bellamy's 1888 utopian novel, Looking Backward, and Henry George's economic treatise, Progress and Poverty, and thought much about social issues. He disliked the way modern cities were being developed and thought people should live in places that should combine the best aspects of both cities and towns.
The only publication he wrote in his life was titled To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, which was significantly revised 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 good 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'.
It proposed 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 the model for many suburbs. Howard believed that such Garden Cities were the perfect blend of city and nature. The towns would be largely independent, managed by the citizens who had an economic interest in them, and financed by ground rents on the Georgist model. The land on which they were to be built was to be owned by a group of trustees and leased to the citizens.
In 1899 he founded the Garden Cities Association, known now as the Town and Country Planning Association.
By his association with Henry Harvey Vivian and the co-partnership housing movement his ideas attracted enough attention and funding to begin Letchworth Garden City, a suburban garden city 37 miles north of London. A second garden city, Welwyn Garden City, was started after World War I. His acquaintance with German architects Hermann Muthesius and Bruno Taut resulted in the application of humane design principles in many large housing projects built in the Weimar Republic. Hermann Muthesius also played an important role in the creation of Germany's first garden city of Hellerau in 1909, the only German garden city where Howard's ideas were thoroughly adopted.
The creation of Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City were influential for the development of "New Towns" after World War II by the British government. This produced more than 30 communities, the first being Stevenage, Hertfordshire (about halfway between Letchworth and Welwyn), and the last (and largest) being Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Howard's ideas also influenced other planners such as Frederick Law Olmsted II and Clarence Perry. Walt Disney used elements of Howard's concepts in his original design for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).
In 1913 Howard founded the ‘Garden Cities and Town Planning Association’ - presently the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP). Its goal was to promote the concept of planned housing and to improve the general standard of the profession by the international exchange of knowledge and experience.
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- (1933) Enciklopedio de Esperanto
- Klaus, Susan (2002). A Modern Acadia. The University of Massachusetts Press. pp. Preface. ISBN 1-55849-314-X.
- Stern, Robert (1981). The Anglo American Suburb. London: Architectural Design Profile. pp. 84, 85. ISBN 0-312-03717-1.
- "Una Stubbs". Who Do You Think You Are?. Series 10. Episode 1. 24 July 2013. BBC Television. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037lfg6. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "The creation of Esperanto Association of Britain"
- London Gazette (supplement), No. 32941, 30 May 1924. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- London Gazette (supplement), No. 33235, 31 December 1926. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ebenezer Howard.|
- Town and Country Planning Association
- Ebenezer Howard on the Open Directory Project
- Garden Cities of Tomorrow at archive.org
- International Federation for Housing and Planning