The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, April 15, 2005
Looking for a Few Good Garden-Cities
Found this discussion of my book and the hyper-agrarian critique of it by Howard King (see my response) at the House of Degenhart blog. At one point Chad, the author notes:

So King argues that one of the reasons that Hegeman’s garden-city thesis fails is because it uses the Garden of Eden to represent primitive culture, which man must advance by building the great city. This view that Hegeman advocates essentially sees the pre-fall world not as Paradise, but merely a potential paradise. Isn’t it a bit arrogant, though, to suggest such a thing? After all, the Garden represented God’s own handiwork, not raw material for him to do something else with. Adam was to keep and dress the Garden, not uproot the trees and pour the foundation of a new apartment complex (even if it did have an attractive solarium with many plants grown in artificial light, where a man could sit in a smoke-free environment and enjoy “nature”). Whether or not you agree with Hegeman’s view, or King’s view, it is inescapable that the two views are diametrically opposed.

Quite true.

I want to say for the record that I state quite clearly that I do state in Plowing that the Garden of Eden is paradise. This does not mean that it is impossible for something good and perfect to reach an even higher (or different) state of perfection. (Didn't Jesus Christ grow and mature?) God gave men and women the privilage of embellishing (="dress") and uncovering the potentialities invested in the original. It is part of the imago dei.

In the response Chad's post, a question arises:

I enjoyed Hegeman’s book, but also noticed the non-existence of his garden-citys. It doesn’t mean he’s wrong, or they can’t exist, I just don’t know of any.

Let me offer some examples that pop into my head (that I have actually visited): Savannah, Georgia, many of the older parts of eastern US cities such as Brooklyn Heights, the tree-lined streets of old Boston, Philadelphia's Society Hill, the Georgetown section of Washington, DC.

Do you have any other suggestions of real live garden-cities?