Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/26

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
10
OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

tion of Wren's plan, placed as it might actually be at the present time in present London. (Fig. 1.)

What do we notice in regard to it? First that in spite of the admirable widening of the roads they are not as wide as we to-day should consider necessary; secondly that Wren's notions of the central requirements of London are inadequate; thirdly and this is most strange of all, we see that Wren had not the slightest fore-shadowing in his mind of the possibility that any bridge beside London Bridge might some day be necessary. We could hardly expect him to foretell railways and certainly the horrors of Cannon Street Station and Cannon Street Bridge could never have found a place in such a beauty loving mind, but one might have expected him at least to see the possibility of a reduplication of such a bridge as already existed. As it happens there are four additional bridges all affecting the area which Wren re-planned; and the Fleet ditch which Wren regarded as a fixed feature in the landscape has been submerged past all discovery except by the sewer men. Moreover Wren was unconscious of the future growth of London and imagined a concentration of functions which subsequent history has proved impossible.

We may understand from this illustration that even a supreme mind with a mass of data to work upon cannot form a scheme for a city which will hold its own as long as the buildings he erects endure. The very stones that Wren handled are smiling down on the accumulated facts which would have impaired his scheme in eight generations.

No one knows to what size a city will grow. No one