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Letchworth History

The first garden city in the world

Letchworth Garden City has a huge array of independent businesses bringing colour and variety to the town.  Small and large green spaces throughout Letchworth Garden City provide a wide variety of opportunities for recreation and leisure.

Letchworth Garden City holds a very special place in modern British history. As the first garden city in the world, its neatly planned streets, attractive cottage housing and wide green spaces offered an alternative to the squalor of urban life in early 20th century Britain. The site of the UK’s very first traffic roundabout, Letchworth Garden City has been the home of the rare black squirrel since 1912.

The visionary behind Letchworth Garden City was social reformer Ebenezer Howard and what he created here became a model for town planning across the globe. Its unique heritage embraces a wealth of architectural styles from Arts and Crafts to Art Deco including an original cinema built in 1936, the world famous Spirella Building and an eclectic Arts Centre.

The Three Magnets - Letchworth Garden City History

“The Three Magnets”

The Garden City Movement was the idea of Sir Ebenezer Howard and sought to address the question “Where will the people go?” The choices being “Town”, “Country” or “Town & Country”. In Howard’s publication ‘Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898)’; he describes a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature.

The Garden City Concept called for small towns which were self-contained and surrounded by greenbelts. He argued they would be able to accommodate the entirety of a person’s daily needs, while still maintaining a connection to the surrounding countryside. The first such town was built in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England in 1903.

Today, Letchworth Garden City is still a place of beautiful tree-lined streets and first class civic amenities, balancing a progressive outlook with an enterprising approach to business. A little further afield, Letchworth’s many other attractions include golf courses, parks, an outdoor pool, Standalone Farm and the Garden City Greenway, a beautiful 13-mile cycling and walking route encircling the town.

For shoppers, Letchworth Garden City promises a fine mix of independent stores, national chains and top eating places, all within an elegant pedestrian-friendly town centre in easy reach of extensive yet unobtrusive car parking. A popular monthly Farmers’ Market, regular arts and leisure events, beautifully kept parks and play areas make the centre of the Garden City a favourite destination for residents and visitors alike.