Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/23

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7
OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

differently operating in different localities which automatically affect city growth.

I am going, for purposes of illustration, occasionally to take London as an example. In so doing, I do not forget that I am lecturing in Manchester, a city with problems of her own and a history of her own, nor do I forget that I was born here, but I find several points which make London the most useful field for the illustration of the historical phenomena which we desire to study. It is, in the first place, a town of which most Englishmen know something; it is, with few exceptions, the most interesting town in the world, and as regards the problem of expansion in area and in population it has no rivals on this globe. Lastly, it is easier to secure facts (as to the successive alterations of plan) from London than from other English towns. London, poor thing, is very far from the ideals of the Psalmist. It may be a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth, but it is certainly not built as a city that is at unity in itself.

Any plan of London, selected from any period since plans were made will illustrate the rudimentary element of all city growth. Every town, however small its beginnings, and however large its developments is the subject of its own servants, I mean its roads.

In every kingdom certain towns establish themselves early in history as road centres. They may have sprung up at the junction of cross roads already existing as routes to other more important places—or they may as in the case of London be the object, the main and primary object, to which the roads tend.