The twentieth century witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of capital cities worldwide – in 1900 there were only about forty, but by 2000 there were more than two hundred. And this, surely, is reason enough for a book devoted to the planning and development of capital cities in the twentieth century.
However, the focus here is not only on recently created capitals. Indeed, the case studies which make up the core of the book show that, while very different, the development of London or Rome presents as great a challenge to planners and politicians as the design and building of Brasília or Chandigarh. Put simply, this book sets out to explore what makes capital cities different from other cities, why their planning is unique, and why there is such variety from one city to another.
Sir Peter Hall’s ‘Seven Types of Capital City’ and Lawrence Vale’s ‘The Urban Design of Twentieth Century Capital Cities’ provide the setting for the fifteen case studies which follow – Paris, Moscow and St Petersburg, Helsinki, London, Tokyo, Washington, Canberra, Ottawa-Hull, Brasília, New Delhi, Berlin, Rome, Chandigarh, Brussels, New York. To bring the book to a close Peter Hall looks to the future of capital cities in the twenty-first century.
For anyone with an interest in urban planning and design, architectural, planning and urban history, urban geography, or simply capital cities and why they are what they are, Planning Twentieth Century Capital Cities will be the key source book for a long time to come.