Letchworth, United Kingdom

The first garden city, based on the ideas of Ebenezer Howard.

Garden City Type: Mixed (housing association / municipality / other)
Country: United Kingdom
City: Letchworth
Address: Broadway Gardens
Years of construction:
1904 Start construction
Initiator/client: Garden City Pioneer Company Ltd
Architect or related:
Ebenezer Howard

Ebenezer Howard (1850 - 1928) is the writer of Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898), which was reprinted into the world-famous Garden Cities of To-morrow (1902). Howard garnered support for building a garden city based on his ideas, leading to the formation of The Garden City Pioneer Company Ltd.

Ebenezer Howard on

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Heritage status: No
General condition of Garden City: Recently renovated

General description

29bf9aef66814498b1586b4f0953eeffLetchworth was the world's first Garden City, founded by Ebenezer Howard in 1903 based on the ideas he outlined in his 1898 book To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path To Real Reform.

Nearly five years after he published his vision of Garden Cities, the first foundations were laid in October 1903 at Letchworth Garden City, in Hertfordshire. Howard had formed the Garden City Association (now the Town & Country Planning Association, or TCPA) in 1899 to gain support for the idea; the Garden City Pioneer Company Ltd was formed in 1902 with the aim of finding a suitable site to actually build a Garden City to see if the revolutionary idea would work; and in 1903, First Garden City Ltd was formed to own and operate the town.Today, the city is still owned and operated according to Howard's original intentions, by a direct successor to FGC Ltd, the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation.

A master plan was drawn up in 1904 by two Arts & Crafts architects from Buxton, in Derbyshire, Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, and they became Chief Consulting Architects of First Garden City Ltd, with the building regulations they drafted helping to create a distinctive early look in the city, and their residential layouts inspiring similar developments around the world.

Timeline of settlement/development

  • 1898: Ebenezer Howard publishes To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path To Real Reform, outlining his vision for Degree Cities.
  • 1899: Garden City Association is formed to help garner support for the idea.
  • 1902: the
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Architecture / Urban planning

The street plan is in an axial layout with roads radiating out from a central square, based on Sir Christopher Wren's plan (never built) for London, after the Great Fire of 1666. Characteristics:

  • Tree-lined streets, each with a different species of tree
  • Zoning of different types of buildings – industrial, commercial, middle-class and working-class.
  • Planned green spaces everywhere
  • Surrounded by a rural belt

'Letchworth Look' homes inspired by Arts & Crafts movement, comprising:

  • Rough plastered cladding over bricks
  • Red roof tiles
  • Green drainpipes, wells, doors, etc
  • Gables and dormers