Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/41

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OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

In nine cases out of ten the guardians of our cities and even their advisers (when there are any) spring to the medicine before they have correctly named the disease. They are like doctors who, satisfied with a patient's enunciation of some local symptom, are content to deal with that symptom, instead of making a searching examination of the invalid's whole system.

There are, for example, many cases of suggested street widening which should not be met by any dealings with the street in question at all, but rather by an entire relief of that street by the substitution of a parallel route. Particularly is this the case where a street, which has been the high street of an old suburban village, finds itself absorbed into a town. The ruthless widening of such a highway results as a rule, in much wanton destruction of old-world beauty and in a damage to property and consequent expense, which the adoption of a parallel route would altogether have avoided.

Town-planners are too ready to assume as data, facts which should not be so assumed. Indeed it would be a good rule in the logic of the town-planner to be always ready to suspect his major premiss, and in particular to increase his suspicion when the major premiss in question is one of long standing and of venerable antiquity. London is full of such ancient superstitions which would vanish before my proposed system of studying London's problem in the light of an ideal whole.

Wren's mistake, as we have seen, was that of assuming too readily that London Bridge was the only necessary