This article examines the international journeys made during 1936–1943 by Sir Ernest Simon, the prominent Manchester reformer and businessman, to investigate urban planning in Moscow, Zurich, Stockholm, and across the United States. The research uses Simon’s own handwritten notes and other archival sources, together with subsequently published material where he drew lessons from these places for Britain. It is a detailed case study of ‘policy tourism’ and ‘cross-national learning’ by an individual important in the town planning movement who was also part of a wider demand for economic and social planning being influentially promoted at the time by cross-party ‘middle opinion’. The visits formed part of his personal search for a form of town planning that was both as effective as that in the Soviet Union but also democratic and consistent with British political values. Switzerland and Sweden were judged as successful democracies, able to plan their most important cities effectively without recourse to totalitarian methods. The United States he approached with suspicions of its tradition of pervasive city corruption. However, he returned heralding the Tennessee Valley Authority and New York City’s express highways and parks as the world’s most outstanding examples of democratic planning.
Ward, Stephen V.
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of the Built Environment
Year of publication: 2017Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-11-15