Ebenezer Howard gives us the garden city

Think of the world’s great cities and the word “plan” does not come readily to mind. Most show scant signs of intelligent organisation, their organic growth resembling ivy spreading alongside a footpath, directed by whim as much as by geography.

Ebenezer Howard, in his garden, in 1826. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Social scientists now recognise that along with establishing a physical space, cities need to accommodate environmental and social systems such as schools, transport, housing, employment and sanitary requirements.

In the International Encyclopaedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Robert Freestone, from Sydney’s University of New South Wales, writes that: “On balance, urban planning initiatives have meant that a significant proportion of humanity on every continent found itself living in better circumstances at the end of the twentieth century than at the beginning.”

In the same book, Naomi Carmon, from the Israel Institute of Technology, writes that the aim of early city planning initiatives was to “make the city and its neighbourhoods safe, sanitary, economically efficient, and socially attractive”.

The prominent figure at the beginning this city planning movement, Carmon suggests, is Ebenezer Howard, whose 1902 book, Garden City of Tomorrow, “influenced 20th-century urban planning more than any other publication”.

In his 1982 book, Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century: Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, author Robert Fishman says, “Of the three planners discussed here, Ebenezer Howard is the least known and the most influential.”

“If Howard’s achievements continue to grow in importance,’ he adds, “Howard the man remains virtually unknown.”

The man was born in London, England, on 29 January 1850, but in 1871 emigrated to the US, where he tried, but failed, to make a go at farming in Nebraska.

He’d left school at 15 and found work in London as a stenographer, so when his US farming efforts were unsuccessful, he moved to Chicago and returned to shorthand as a court reporter and newspaper stenographer. When he returned to London in 1876 he worked for the Hansard company as a Parliamentary reporter.

Max Steuer, writing in the June 2000 edition of the British Journal of Sociology, in a paper titled “A hundred years of town planning and the influence of Ebenezer Howard”, says Howard “had no particular educational background, but always took an interest in social movements”.

The idea for which Howard is renowned is his scheme for “garden cities”, several of which were built and exist in Britain and the US, along with many of the principles he established being adopted around the world.

Ebenezer Howard’s original garden city concept. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A 2019 paper by Dragica Gataric from the University of Belgrade, in Serbia, says Howard “proposed the establishment of a new city type in order to remove/reduce the differences between rural and urban settlements”.

Gataric says Howard envisioned these garden cities as environmentally friendly places with the economic and cultural advantages of city life as well as ecological advantages of rural areas.

Howard planned his garden city in

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Timothy Howard McCaffrey jailed for manslaughter of father

A man whose moment of “senseless” rage caused the death of his father, all over a dispute about watering the garden, has been handed a five-year jail term.

Timothy Howard McCaffrey never intended to seriously hurt or kill his father, David Howard McCaffrey, when a loud argument broke out between the pair over Timothy’s water usage.

But in a matter of seconds, the 45-year-old escalated the argument by grabbing his father and pushing him, leading to a tragic outcome for the family.

Facing Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday, family members wept as Justice Thomas Bradley sentenced Timothy to a five year jail term.

With time already served in custody since 2018, his sentence was suspended for five years.

Timothy had pleaded guilty to manslaughter in August for the unlawful killing of David, 69, in April 2018.

The court was told Timothy was watering plants at the family’s Clontarf home on April 23, 2018, when he was confronted by David.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said an argument broke out between the pair about Timothy “using too much water”.

The argument continued inside, culminating in a confrontation on the stairs where Timothy grabbed his father’s throat for a few seconds, causing him to lose his balance.

Mr Cook said there was a stark difference in size between the pair, with Timothy weighing over 90kg at the time compared to his “fragile” father’s 54kg frame.

Timothy then pushed his father, where he fell from the first step of the house landing and hit his head on the floor.

“The defendant heard a loud crack… he saw his father twitch and squirm, he turned blue and was not breathing,” Mr Cook said.

David McCaffrey was rushed to hospital but died of head injuries some time later.

Mr Cook said while Timothy had no intention to kill, his behaviour was “violent” and had caused the tragic loss of life.

The court was told the pair had a history of animosity and there were instances of verbal abuse and violence from David towards family members.

Defence lawyer Jessica Horne said her client was remorseful for his actions and had been “overcome” with grief and sorrow.

She told the court prior to his father being taken to hospital, Timothy had performed CPR on him.

Ms Horne said Timothy was seeking treatment for his mental health issues and wished to re-engage with work and his church.

In sentencing Timothy to five years’ jail, Justice Thomas Bradley said any sentence imposed “will always, in some sense, feel inadequate to deal with the loss of a person who was for many years a member of your family.”

But he said an ordinary person would have seen death as a potential consequence.

“To view the events as limited to those that occurred on the day… would be to take a rather truncated view of things,” Justice Bradley said.

“I take into account the fact you had many decades of living with the knowledge and consequences of your father’s wholly inappropriate acts

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