George G. Harrap
January 1, 1956
The author describes this work as “an attempt to set, historically and in roughly chronological sequence, the broad circumstances, causes, and methods by which towns came into being, were reformed, or subjected to abuse, within a space of, say, five millenniums of time.”
“City-building is not only the most comprehensive but also the earliest of the major arts of civilization, ” says Mr. Hiorns in his preface, and he goes on to show how cities and urban communities have grown and shaped civilization, for good or ill, from earliest times to the present day.
Beginning in times of antiquity, he traces the urbanism of the ancient and most famous civilizations. The Middle Ages, in which Italy, France, and the Netherlands provided models of civic culture for the rest of Europe, and set the stage for a neo-classic revival, are then described as a prelude to the work of the Renaissance, the Industrial Age in Britain (with its irrational town development and concomitant evils), and the final chapters on “the present day in Britain” and “the culture of cities.” The last chapter contains many of the author’s reflections resulting from a lifetime’s experience in town and architectural planning. He also gives his observations on the “rise and fall of cities.”