Saturday, June 03, 2006

Planning of Madison: John Nolen and the City Beautiful

In 1908, John Nolen, a well known city planner, was contracted by several govermental officials for advice in laying out Madison city parks. For the city of Madison , Nolen recommended establishing boundaries for industry, business, government, and residential life, widening streets and planting trees, increasing land given to parks and plazas, and regulating the height and style of buildings near the capitol to highlight its place at the center of a thriving state.

Nolen pioneered the development of professional city planning. His approach blended social, economic, and physical aspects of urban life with the preservation of natural beauty. He felt strongly that “simple recreation in the open air amid beautiful surroundings contributes to physical and moral health, to a saner and happier life,” and his plan for the city of Madison is considered a preeminent example of the urban landscape movement.

The planners of Madison also adhered to the ideas of the City Beautiful Movement. The movement sought to use beauty as a social control device for creating moral and civic virtue among urban populations. Advocates of the movement believed that such beautification could thus provide a harmonious social order that would improve the lives of the inner-city poor.

State Street and the Capitol building grounds are prime examples of these ideas. Mixing lush park areas with broad avenues allows for a connection between rural urban life. Its architecture and form provides way of associating between important ideas. State Street is a prime example with government at one end and the university at the other.

Site - State and Dayton

Challenge -

Media - photo of Nolen

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