Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/32

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OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

remedial rather than a creative work. It may be surgical at times. He may have to ply the knife, and he may now and then cut away more than he should, but when all is said there is certainly a field for this healing and corrective work.

And these academic exercises, even the vision of a replanned London are not really without their uses. The logical result of the considerations we have just been entertaining is undoubtedly that, except for the necessary building of new buildings which should wherever possible be confined to the replacing of old structures that are of no artistic or historic value, it would be better in the case of all old towns to do nothing whatever in the way of innovation except under dire necessity. And that reservation—the possibility of dire necessity—is really the key to the whole situation.

Town-planning is a rash game at best, but it is a game that must be played because desperate diseases require desperate remedies.

From one cause or another, and most of these causes are reducible ultimately to increase of population and to commercial prosperity, crises occur in the lives of cities which require to be met by operation on the city's corpus, I give here as an important instance the urgent facts set forth in the annual reports of the Traffic Branch of the Board of Trade. In fact there come times when it is obvious that something must be done and it is quite clear that however imperfect may be the science of town-planning and however liable it may be to fallibility in its methods of forecasting