The history of urban planning in European cities in the modern period has always been written from the ‘top down’.1 Planning means control over space and the built environment. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, as the management of cities became an ever-greater issue for local and central governments, for public health officials, for architects and planners committed to preventing unplanned urban sprawl, control over urban space has become a matter of political significance. Exerting any kind of control over space in the public interest was, and is, extremely difficult. It has to be exerted against the two strongest forces in the urban arena: the rights of private property and dynamic change produced by market forces. On the side of those wishing to establish control, the strongest tools for the job have been the growing body of legislation relating to public health and the needs of modern transportation and communication.2 Over the past 150 years, the majority of every European nation, one after another, has become urbanized.3 The scale of the challenge for city authorities and the results
1 There are a great many volumes on the history of planning which illustrate this. I will confine myself to two on European cities: K. Bosma, and H. Hellinga, eds. Mastering the City: North European city planning 1900-2000 Vols I and II (Rotterdam/The Hague, 1997); E. Blau and M. Platzer, eds, Shaping the Great City: Modern Architecture in Central Europe 1890-1937 (Munich/London/New York, 1999).