Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/25

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9
OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

the subsequent widening of the roads, when required for the increased traffic is rendered costly or impossible.

Perhaps the most important considerations which I have to offer you are those which come under my second class. With the best intentions in the world no town-planner could possibly plan a large town as such. Certainly an expert might as an academic study take the needs and the opportunities of our present London and replan the town on its present site. He might say "here is a bit of ground measuring ten miles each way with certain natural features—the Thames for example—that must not be disturbed, which piece of ground is occupied by a million houses very badly arranged. I will rearrange them." He sets to work on paper, and let us suppose that on the night when his plans are finished there comes an earthquake and a fire.

In the morning all is ready for a start—the expert's new city can be begun. Happily there is no stint of money and no opposition, for his plan is acclaimed by all surviving London as ideal.

What then? It gets built, and we come back to look at it in two centuries' time. It is perfect then? Probably not, and I will lay before you a rather curious instance in proof.

In 1666 the heart of London was destroyed. The moment had come; and the man came too. Sir Christopher Wren was a combination of artist and scientist without equal since Leonardo da Vinci. He made his ideal plan and as it happened it was never acted upon. But it might have been. And what would have been the result? Here is an illustra-