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Welwyn Garden City, as its name suggests, is a garden city, founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the 1920s following his previous experiment in Letchworth Garden City, and designed by Louis de Soissons.
Following the establishment of Letchworth Garden City and prior to the commencement of Welwyn Garden City, Howard wrote:
A city will arise as superior in its beauty and magnificence to our first crude attempt as the finished canvas of a great artist to the rough and untaught attempts of a schoolboy.
Howard (nicknamed by close friend George Bernard Shaw as Ebenezer the Garden City Geyser, in recognition of his continual 'spouting forth' on the advantages of Garden City living) had called for the creation of new towns - of limited size, planned in advance and surrounded by a permanent belt of agricultural land - as a role model for lower-density urban development. Howard believed that such Garden Cities were the perfect blend of city and nature. The town has its own exclusive environmental protection legislation - The Scheme of Management for Welwyn Garden City.
The town centre is dominated by the central mall or 'scenic parkway', almost a mile long, named 'Parkway'. Prior to the erection of a police radio mast, the Parkway vista to the south viewed from the White Bridge had been described as one of the world's finest urban vistas.
The main shopping centre is known as The Howard Centre, after Sir Ebenezer Howard. Welwyn Garden City railway station also forms part of the centre.
One of the lesser-known ideas of the city's architects was that all the town's citizens would shop in the same store. Thus the Welwyn department store was established as a central landmark on the 'Campus' (a centrally-located green semi-circular area in the town). Commercial pressures have since ensured much more competition and variety, and the Welwyn Store is now part of the John Lewis Partnership group of storeS (2the original Welwyn Store was on the site of the current Rosanne House office building).
Until a mistake in 2005, there were no street names with the word "street" in the town. Ebenezer Howard is said to have planted an apple tree in the garden of every original house.
In 1948 The Times newspaper said: "Welwyn Garden City made The New Towns Act possible". Cambridge professor of architecture Andrew Saint said: "Welwyn Garden City is one of modern Europe's greatest success stories in town-making". The problems of metropolitan and regional development and urban sprawl, and the need for harmony and ecology are prompting a current resurgance of interest in the 'Garden City ethos' and the kinds of neighbourhoods and communities Howard advocated. In November 2006, a Japanese building company, NSCP, visited the town, were given a guided tour by the WGC society, and were so impressed that they decided to name a new 144-house development near Tokyo "Welwyn Garden Village".
Source: Wikipedia - June 2008 - click here for the latest Welwyn Garden City Wikipedia Entry