Study Aid 9: 19th and Early-20th Century Urbanism

With the explosive growth of European and American cities in the 19th century, disease and overcrowding often became the greatest problems facing urban centers. Most cities undertook gradual or piecemeal attempts at rectifying these conditions including the creation of public parks (e.g. Birenhead Park, near Liverpool, England, 1842-47, Joseph Paxton, designer; Central Park, New York City, 1859-, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designers; new cemeteries (e.g. Pere Lachaise, Paris, France, 1804-; Highgate, London, England, 1838-; and Mt. Laurel, Philadelphia PA, 1836-) and water & sewer systems (London, England, 1845-75, Sir Joseph Bazalgette engineer) and transportation systems (e.g. the London subway or "underground," 1863-; New York City, 1904-). Philanthropic efforts attempted to improve conditions for the working classes by sponsoring competitions or erecting models tenement dwellings which had higher standards for light, space and hygiene. New industrial towns were also built to improve the conditions of the working poor, e.g. Saltaire, Yorkshire, England, 1852, Sir Titus Salt patron; Pullman, Illinois, 1879-, Solon Beman designer, George Pullman's patron; Port Sunlight, near Liverpool, England, 1888, Lever Brothers patrons. By the turn of the century, many middle- and upper-class families had moved to commercially developed suburbs that had been made possible by streetcars and commuter rail lines, e.g. Bedford park London, 1870s, Richard Norman Shaw architect; Riverside, Ill. 1869-, Olmsted and Vaux, planners.

Some urban centers, however, experienced more comprehensive redevelopment. During the reign of Napoleon III (1853-70), Baron Eugene Haussmann directed the replanning of Paris, one of the most significant and influential planning schemes in history. Following the precedents of the Baroque schemes of Rome and Versailles, redeveloped Paris featured wide tree-lined boulevards connecting major public monuments. The rebuilding of the city essentially caused the demolition of many poor neighborhoods with their radical political sympathies and "organic" street patterns. Planning laws also regulated the proportions and appearance of structures built along the new streets and provided for a more efficient sewer system, public urinals, and street lighting. Paris' new imperial image of coordinated classical structures inspired many subsequent plans including those for assorted "City Beautiful" schemes in the USA, including plans for San Francisco, Chicago (1909-9, Daniel Burnham designer), and Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway (final design by Jacques Greber, 1917). Individual public buildings were also part of the effort to reform the city along monumental and more aesthetically pleasing lines, e.g. Pennsylvania Station, NYC, 1906-10, McKim, Mead and White. Grand neo-Baroque city plans were also erected by European powers in colonial settings, e.g. Manila, Philippine's, 1905, Burnham planner; New Delhi, India, 1912-31, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker architects.

Other designers found the great modern city to be inhuman or inefficient by its basic nature. Camillo Sitte hated the Neo-Baroque plan (the "Ringstrasse") imposed on his native Vienna, Austria. He advocated plans inspired by the intimate and organic layouts of medieval cities that he published in his book "Der Stadtebau" in 1889. Englishman Ebeneqer Howard promoted the ideal of a planned and community-owned and controlled "Garden City" that accommodated both the lower and middle classes and offered the cultural amenities of city life balanced by the healthful surroundings of farms and nature. In 1898 he published a book called "Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real reform," that was republished in 1902 as "Garden Cities of Tomorrow." The town of Letchworth, England (1903-, Parker and Unwin designers) was inspired by Howard's idea. The French architect Tony Garnier was more insistent in his embrace of an industrial future. His visionary Cite Industrielle project (1901-17) was a new industrially based city that was zoned for different uses and developed for the health and happiness of the workers. To be built of reinforced concrete, his images were remarkably prescient of later designs.

Central Park

Date: 1859-
Location: New York City, New York
Architects: Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux

Photo of Site Before Park Construction

Engraving of Site After Park Construction

Bird's Eye View

Aerial View

Transverse Roads in Central Park

Lake with View of the City Skyline Beyond

Cartoon of the Misuse of Central Park

The Replanning of Paris

Date: 1853-70
Location: Paris, France
Architect: Eugene Haussmann
Patron: Emperor Napoleon III

Plan for New Boulevards and Parks

Plan for Avenue de l'Opera

Demolition Undertaken for the Creation of the Avenue de l'Opera

A Paris Street After Haussmann

Birds-eye View: Paris after Haussmann

Aerial of Paris with Paris Opera

Demolitions around Notre Dame

Paris after Haussmann: Rue Sebastapol

New Chicago Plan

Date: 1909
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Architect: Daniel Burnham


Bird's Eye Painted View by Jules Guerin

Proposed Boulevard on Michigan Avenue

Bird's Eye View of Proposed Civic Center

Bird's Eye View of Central Chicago

Pennsylvania Station

Date: 1906-10
Location: New York City, New York
Architects: McKim, Mead, and White

Aerial View


Front Elevation

Interior View - Waiting Room

Interior - Waiting Room Ceiling

Interior View During Demolition

Interior View - Concourse

Cite Industrielle

Date: 1901-17
Architect: Tony Garnier

Bird's Eye View of the Dock Area

Residential Zone


Railroad Station