Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/31

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OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

the type that lets most readily at the time. As further and more outward land is occupied, the outer houses are erected in a style and with accommodation suited to still newer and relatively more luxurious needs, and they consequently (thanks to our improving means of transit) supersede the more inward suburb, which thereupon sinks to a lower value, until the increasing needs of the centre again raise its character and supplant its buildings possibly by substituting commercial for domestic houses.

There is thus, even in residential property, a fluctuation of character and value which, unless a town-planner is able to prophesy future rates of increase in population and trade, will certainly baffle that town-planner's calculations.

AU these foregoing considerations seem to point to the distressing conclusion that as far as large and established towns are concerned town-planning projects are of no value. But I have no wish to sum up in so pessimistic a vein. It may be perfectly true that if Manchester were all destroyed to-night and at once rebuilt on new lines the new city might prove vastly inconvenient and even insanitary to our grandchildren's grandchildren. But we may relieve our minds with the thought that the entire rebuilding of Manchester or of London is as unlikely as it is undesirable. A physician is not, thank heaven, called upon to invent a new man, but he does keep before his mind's eye a vision of what he believes to be the perfect man and is able, for a fee, to do a good deal of useful work in patching up imperfect humanity.

The town-planner's work in old towns is similarly a