Modern town planning had its roots in utopian communes. Through the last two centuries it gradually shifted its definitions of the problems of urban living and its options for solutions. We can better understand the role of new urbanism in the contemporary period if we have a sense of the history of ideas about good urban form. This chapter explores what planning said about urban form and community character through the late nineteenth and most of the twentieth century. In the early twentieth century, the garden city became the dominant theory of urban form in planning. Through the post-war period, the garden city concept influenced planning practice on almost every continent (Ward 1992). Planning and development practice, however, reduced the paradigm to the ‘garden suburb’ at best, and to an underlying ideology that engendered sprawling formless growth at worst: success robbed the garden city paradigm of its theoretical promise.