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Author Topic: Victorian Pre-automotive City Layout help wanted  (Read 681 times)
Lazaras
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« on: October 15, 2016, 03:34:05 am »

I realize cars allow cities to grow wider, but my idea of pre-automotive city is like 'new york' where you had a clear grid layout put in place, or cities that have been built and rebuilt on the same site for so long nobody knows how old it really is and it's sorta grown organically over time.

The thing is the location I'm considering has only been around in its modern incarnation in fiftyish years and was sorta built on top of something else from before a continent spanning war. So there's a chance it could have a sorta ordered layout but at the same time there've been real world situations where cities got wiped off the map then rebuilt. Namely the second world war.

Mostly while there are other things in the world, it's largely horse/cart travel for the locals. Maybe a freight line that is near enough to get some traffic because the train needs water, the crew needs food, and so on but it's not a passenger line stop.

What sort of layouts can I expect beyond New York's Gridiron?

Postscript:
The main setting I have in mind I'm wanting to be very 'late 1800's/early 1900's feeling. There's some magic involved but the whole thing I want to feel very mundane at a glance. Like church, a few corner stores, an area for farmers to come in at set hours and set up stalls, a meat market, and so on.

I sorta know what a smallish town might have, but what would be realistic given main travel is horse/buggy/wagons for most people? I'd sorta like to integrate rail or airship/zeppelin, but those feel less appropriate here since those feel 'destination' where 'here' to me feels more 'place that sprung up because common shortest spot for the local farmers, and happens to be on a route that two different Destinations are on'

Apologies if i seem unclear, but think of how Nashville is a Destination. Think on how Atlanta is a destination. What about a city that is between those two points along the way? (Wish I could think of two closer Large places to give as example. New York/Boston?)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 03:55:59 am by Lazaras » Logged

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RJBowman
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2016, 04:12:51 am »

Cities built without city planning tend to have roads that radiate out from one or more central points. Moscow is an obvious example.
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Crescat Scientia
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2016, 06:08:47 pm »

New York City was laid out in a grid for the convenience of land speculators.

Other reasons so many nineteenth-century cities were laid out in grids include for the convenience of railroads, for the convenience of marching armies, and because Imperial Rome did it and everyone wanted to be Imperial Rome.
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RJBowman
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2016, 06:20:12 pm »

New York City was laid out in a grid for the convenience of land speculators.

Other reasons so many nineteenth-century cities were laid out in grids include for the convenience of railroads, for the convenience of marching armies, and because Imperial Rome did it and everyone wanted to be Imperial Rome.

Cities are laid out in grids for efficiency of movement and for ease of navigation. Not everything in the world is tied to banking conspiracies.
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2016, 06:22:55 pm »

Ultimately, it depends on how organised the building of the city has been; e.g. Christopher Wren's plans for London after the great fire laid the streets out in a spiral, and as has been mentioned most american/canadian cities are laid out according to a grid simply because that was the easiest way to divide land up (and more modern cities use grid plans because it makes traffic move more efficiently).

But most major European cities don't have any defined shape since most of them are a collection of smaller towns and villages that have simply expanded and merged into one another and so the only major effort made at planning is usually where two major roads intersect.
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Crescat Scientia
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2016, 06:28:16 pm »

New York City was laid out in a grid for the convenience of land speculators.

Other reasons so many nineteenth-century cities were laid out in grids include for the convenience of railroads, for the convenience of marching armies, and because Imperial Rome did it and everyone wanted to be Imperial Rome.

Cities are laid out in grids for efficiency of movement and for ease of navigation. Not everything in the world is tied to banking conspiracies.

Certainly not, and that wasn't what I said.
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James Harrison
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2016, 01:46:52 pm »


The thing is the location I'm considering has only been around in its modern incarnation in fiftyish years and was sorta built on top of something else from before a continent spanning war. So there's a chance it could have a sorta ordered layout but at the same time there've been real world situations where cities got wiped off the map then rebuilt. Namely the second world war.


Ultimately, it depends on how organised the building of the city has been; e.g. Christopher Wren's plans for London after the great fire laid the streets out in a spiral, and as has been mentioned most american/canadian cities are laid out according to a grid simply because that was the easiest way to divide land up (and more modern cities use grid plans because it makes traffic move more efficiently).


When you have a city that is destroyed in some cataclysmic event (eg the Great Fire of London, or Nagasaki / Hiroshima, or the San Francisco earthquake and fire), you usually find that the planners see it as an opportunity to rebuild on better lines.  But then you also usually find that the sheer pressures of necessity (eg the need to rehouse a huge displaced population quickly) mean that the grand ideal quite soon becomes a good-enough approach, with the original intention shrinking by degrees to a few token scraps- eg Wren's London going by the board with the exception of St Pauls Cathedral and some churches. 

So I think it entirely likely that even if the city is a new replacement for a destroyed original, likely as not it will still be laid out on the same lines as what went before- see the underground streets of Seattle for a real-world example of the new aping the old.

I realize cars allow cities to grow wider, but my idea of pre-automotive city is like 'new york' where you had a clear grid layout put in place, or cities that have been built and rebuilt on the same site for so long nobody knows how old it really is and it's sorta grown organically over time.



(My bold).  This reminds me of a point made by one of my tutors whilst I was studying for a Masters a few years ago.  The example he was using was Birmingham, but equally applicable to Manchester, Liverpool and other industrial cities of the 18th and 19th Centuries.  You start off with a small nucleus; maybe an area of industry.  Outside of that area you have a tight band of housing for the workers.  Outside of that band you have a wider suburban area where the better-off live (like the factory owners).  This works well for a time, but then maybe the industry takes off.  More workers are enticed into the town.  The workers zone of habitation becomes increasingly overcrowded.  Eventually, a new zone of housing is constructed, outside of the well-off suburbs.  The denizens of the suburbs object to their 'social inferiors' having to travel past their homes, so they move further out, beyond the new workers housing, into new suburbs.  The older suburbs become inner-city and fall down the social ladder.  You get phased bands of development radiating out from the centre.  Of course, this palimpsest was never envisaged by the original designers, so the city grows organically in a completely random fashion. 


Mostly while there are other things in the world, it's largely horse/cart travel for the locals. Maybe a freight line that is near enough to get some traffic because the train needs water, the crew needs food, and so on but it's not a passenger line stop.



Particularly in the UK, towns and cities regarded the railways as unwelcome additions to the landscape.  Oxford, for instance, strenuously objected to the main London-Birmingham route going anywhere near it in the mid-1830s.  When the railway did finally come, in the 1840s, the city elders insisted it be right on the outskirts and certainly nowhere near the University.  London did something similar; a Royal Comission laying down the law that no railway terminus was to built withinin a prescribed distance of the City (which is why Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations describe a roughly straight line on the north side of two roads across the north of the city).  It is by no means uncommon to look at an OS map even today and note that a railway line more or less demarcates the boundary of a town.   
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RJBowman
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2016, 07:17:05 pm »

Particularly in the UK, towns and cities regarded the railways as unwelcome additions to the landscape.  Oxford, for instance, strenuously objected to the main London-Birmingham route going anywhere near it in the mid-1830s.  When the railway did finally come, in the 1840s, the city elders insisted it be right on the outskirts and certainly nowhere near the University.  London did something similar; a Royal Comission laying down the law that no railway terminus was to built withinin a prescribed distance of the City (which is why Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations describe a roughly straight line on the north side of two roads across the north of the city).  It is by no means uncommon to look at an OS map even today and note that a railway line more or less demarcates the boundary of a town.    

That's a strange idea to my American view of railroads; over here the train tracks united distant regions of the country and were often the determiner of where new towns would be built and which old towns would thrive on the mostly unsettled frontier.

Additional note: American midwestern and western small towns would sometimes have a poorer "wrong side of the tracks" section of town, with the railroad tracks being a physical demarcation of the economic or social status of the residents.
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2016, 09:14:16 pm »

Particularly in the UK, towns and cities regarded the railways as unwelcome additions to the landscape.  Oxford, for instance, strenuously objected to the main London-Birmingham route going anywhere near it in the mid-1830s.  When the railway did finally come, in the 1840s, the city elders insisted it be right on the outskirts and certainly nowhere near the University.  London did something similar; a Royal Comission laying down the law that no railway terminus was to built withinin a prescribed distance of the City (which is why Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations describe a roughly straight line on the north side of two roads across the north of the city).  It is by no means uncommon to look at an OS map even today and note that a railway line more or less demarcates the boundary of a town.    

That's a strange idea to my American view of railroads; over here the train tracks united distant regions of the country and were often the determiner of where new towns would be built and which old towns would thrive on the mostly unsettled frontier.

Well railways came to the US later than the UK (1840s/50s in the US vs. 1820s onwards in the UK) by which time the economic benefits of a railway could easily be demonstrated (and unlike the UK, the US didn't have an existing internal navigation system capable of handling large quantities of freight). Also people in the US WANTED to have a railway running through their town since it could massively increase the value of their land (which given much of the mid west at the time was open prairie made a lot of difference to whether or not people could/would come to any given town). But that's not to say that towns in Europe/the UK didn't thrive/wither economically with/without a railway.

E.g. The reason the GWR originally ran from London to Bristol was because it was mostly funded by Bristol merchants who were losing transatlantic trade to their counterparts in Liverpool, because the later city having a railway connection to Manchester and from there, London, meant that goods could reach the major markets quicker.
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Lazaras
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2016, 09:24:17 pm »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_city_movement

Anyone have anything to say on this?
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RJBowman
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2016, 10:09:33 pm »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_city_movement

Anyone have anything to say on this?

Another 19th century utopian idea that didn't pan out. I don't think that a city can be planned in advance in the long term; central planning fails to anticipate changes and trends, and is slow to respond when new needs arise.
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Lazaras
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2016, 12:49:59 am »

Why is this? Why can at least in some capacity the future needs not be anticipated to some extent or other?
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2016, 08:03:21 am »

Why is this? Why can at least in some capacity the future needs not be anticipated to some extent or other?

Well, to a certain extent, they can be. The problem is getting the balance right. There have been plenty of model towns built in the UK by factory owners near to their factories to accommodate their workforce (e.g. Saltaire, Bourneville and Port Sunlight) the problem there comes with the fact that they're built to accommodate 'x' number of workers. Usually either the workforce expands faster than the town can be extended according to its' principals and the plans have to be abandoned in favour of getting homes built, or the company/industry collapses and the town is left without people to live in it.

The other end of the scale are the planned capitals built by various dictators in various South American countries and elsewhere, where they've ordered a new capital city to be built in the middle of nowhere with these wide sweeping boulevards to cope with all the traffic and high rise buildings to accommodate everyone a capital city needs to run. These usually fail (either through logistical problems or) because people aren't quick enough on the uptake, and by the time the population has risen to the point where it becomes a viable settlement most of the buildings have fallen into disrepair through disuse, and there being no one to maintain them. The end result is they're usually abandoned due to the cost of keeping them running for no purpose.
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James Harrison
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2016, 06:25:56 pm »

Why is this? Why can at least in some capacity the future needs not be anticipated to some extent or other?


Anticipation does not cope well with sudden step-changes. 

In 1898, a conference was held in New York concerning how to deal with horse manure in cities; there was just so much of the stuff being produced that there were serious problems in getting rid of it; there are after all only so many fields that it can be spread over.  After three weeks the delegates came to the conclusion that there was no real answer to the problem, so they packed up and went home. 

Shortly afterward the first practical motorcars were introduced.  By 1912 the 'unanswerable problem' was a memory.

A more recent example would be the growth of the Internet and the spread of the idea of working from home via telepresence.  Which, if it continues to take off in the way it has over the last few years, is going to drastically change the form of the morning rush hour.  How does a transit system designed to take large numbers of people to a specific area of a town or city adapt if that market suddenly shrinks or disappears altogether? (it's a bit more difficult to redirect a tramway, after all, than it is to amend a bus route).  I'm quite of the opinion that the furore over building a third runway at Heathrow has the potential to go the same way; by the time people have agreed how to solve the problem and, more importantly, by the time the infrastructure is ready for service, the problem will have resolved itself- why go to the bother of flying to the other side of the world for a meeting if you can hold it in your own home via Skype?
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2016, 06:44:22 pm »

why go to the bother of flying to the other side of the world for a meeting if you can hold it in your own home via Skype?

This is essentially why concord went t*ts up. It was all well and good being able to offer business people the ability to travel from London to New York inside 5 hours, but what's the point when they can do whatever they'd be doing once they got to New York inside 5 minutes via email without even leaving the office?

There's also the question of changing needs, and the way businesses adapt to those needs. Case in point: there's a brewery in Bruges which is based in the centre of the old city, but has a bottling plant on the outskirts. This has caused a lot of problems due to them needing to have their tankers try and turn around in the narrow streets. The solution they came up with this, unlike many of it's competitors who have moved their breweries out of the city to be nearer to their bottling plants have had a pipeline installed to transport the beer between the two.

Linky here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/08/bruges-pipe-dream-a-reality-beer-pipeline?CMP=share_btn_fb
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Cora Courcelle
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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2016, 10:43:36 pm »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_city_movement

Anyone have anything to say on this?

Another 19th century utopian idea that didn't pan out. I don't think that a city can be planned in advance in the long term; central planning fails to anticipate changes and trends, and is slow to respond when new needs arise.

In Letchworth Garden City (which was the first garden city to be built in England) the town centre does actually radiate out from a sort of oval, although there is now quite a lot of newer development which masks this.  However one of the most important things for Ebenezer Howard was the inclusion of lots of green areas and in Letchworth lots of the pavements have wide, tree lined grass verges between the houses and the roads.  He also didn't approve of drinking much so there weren't any pubs included in the plan - local people went to one of the local village pubs; there was at least one almost on the towns boundary so it wasn't too much of a hardship.  I remember my Mother telling me that when her family moved there in the mid-1920's it was regarded as a bit 'bohemian' but, coming from the London suburbs, they loved it.
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