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Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design Since 1880, 4th Edition by Peter Hall

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The City of Theory

Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie

Und grün das Lebens goldner Baum.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, I (1808)

Read no history; nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.

Benjamin Disraeli, Contarini Fleming (1832)

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists (Man and Superman) (1903)

All professions are conspiracies against the laity.

George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor’s Dilemma (1913)

10The City of Theory: Planning and the Academy: Philadelphia, Manchester, California, Paris, 1955–1987

The chapter title might suggest total superfluity: for this book has been about nothing else than cities of theory, and attempts to bring them to actuality. And, down to about 1955, that adequately describes the main current of twentieth-century planning history; such has been the central thesis. But from then on, it will not do. Hence the need for this chapter, and the title.

The reason is paradoxical: at that point, city planning at last became legitimate; but in doing so, it began to sow the seeds of its own destruction. All too quickly, it split into two separate camps: the one, in the schools of planning, increasingly and exclusively obsessed with the theory of the subject; the other, in the offices of local authorities and consultants, concerned only with the everyday business of planning in the real world. That division was not at first evident; indeed, during the late 1950s and most of the ...

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