Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/29

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11
OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

knows in what direction it will grow, and no one knows what developments will take place in methods of transit. Here are three obscurations casting impenetrable shadow on the clearest of logical forecasts.

And now in order that we may get these disheartening considerations out of the way I will deal with some further difficulties which I may put roughly and generally into my last category.

I said that towns, however perfect, change the units of of their formation. The constant flux, or change of units applies not merely to the supplanting of old buildings by new, but to the rise, fall, change and development of individual districts under the influence of absorption and of the readjustment of social and commercial equilibrium. The simplest illustration of this is again found in London.

In a nice old book on our metropolis, I often read the account given of the habits of that manager of the Bank of England who held office in the lifetime of my great grandfather. Compelled by the duties of his post to sleep always at the Bank, this manager used nevertheless to drive out to dinner so that he might enjoy the country air of his home at—Islington. Three generations ago then Islington was an isolated village becoming a country residence for city men, its next stage was to become a suburb, from that it rapidly became part of outer London, now it is indistinguishable from London itself, but has undergone, like other absorbed townships a civic revulsion towards independence by promotion to Borough-hood. This process has gone on all round London, and the decentralisation produced by the