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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Letter to Ebenezer Howard on
Garden Cities (S576ad: 1900)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: An untitled extract from a letter Wallace sent to Ebenezer Howard concerning the establishment of Garden Cities. Printed in the February 1900 issue of The Municipal Reformer and Local Government News. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S576AD.htm

    [[p. 55]] The following is an extract from a letter received by Mr. Howard from Dr. Alfred Russell Wallace, on Garden Cities:--

    The evils of great cities are admittedly enormous, whether physical, moral or sanitary, yet almost every city government seems to rejoice in its extension in area and population--an extension which must further intensify the evils of city life. They all try palliatives for these evils not fundamental remedies. But besides the bad result on their own population, they deteriorate the whole country--by abstracting water from the rivers at distant points, and by polluting the rivers by their manufactures or by their sewage. Hence all over the country our streams are diminishing, and are often becoming mere open sewers.

    The London County Council seems to have no idea beyond the indefinite growth of London as a necessity, and as the water supply for this supposed inevitable increase will be insufficient, a huge scheme is contemplated by which water is to be brought from Wales at a cost of many millions--to the further injury of our country.

    But if these millions are devoted to the establishment of half a dozen or more "Garden Cities," not as mere suburbs of London, but at least 40 or 50 miles from it, for the special purpose of removing many manufacturers and their people to better sites, and thus at first checking the growth and later causing a diminution of this vast ulcer of our nation, we should have not a mere palliative, but a true remedy for the evil.

    Modern cities are mostly in the worst possible situations for health and civilisation. It is because so many are in valleys or on the sea level that the huge problem of sewage disposal is so urgent and insoluble. The modern city should always be on high ground, so that the whole of the sewage might flow downwards, and be applied to the lower grounds [[p. 56]] as the best of fertilisers, at the minimum cost, and with the maximum results in food production. This must be one of the very first considerations in determining the sites of "Garden Cities." Now will it not be possible to imbue the County Council, and even Parliament, with these ideas, and stop the injurious waste involved in preparing for a further increase of already overgrown London? I look at all measures for "improving" London as essentially wrong and evil, because they inevitably attract more population and more manufacturers to have the use of that vast supply of labour, and they do a great deal more harm than good. The determinate limited area and population of each "Garden City," owning the whole land for at least five or six miles in every direction to prevent private capitalists from building around it, and thus extending it against its will, is one of the most important and essential features of the whole scheme.

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