British New Towns and the Unmaking of Mid-Century Modernism


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This project examines one of the the most ambitious programs of urban development in European history: the British New Towns. During the quarter century after 1945, the British state built 32 cities from scratch. At the program’s peak in the 1960s, as urban riots were rattling the confidence of American liberals, these British New Towns attracted attention and investment from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. But by the time that Margaret Thatcher’s government began to dismantle the New Towns program during the 1980s, the assumptions that once sustained this social vision had unraveled. As a result, British New Towns created through the agency of state planning ironically become the testing ground for liberal privatization.