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See how far we’ve travelled
A Garden City
[ACT Government crest]
Four men and a plan
The extent of government planning and intervention in the early design and establishment of Canberra is unique within Australia’s history.
Four men are responsible for the character and identity of the bush capital and garden city of Canberra today.
The contribution and legacy of each of these men can be seen here in Barton, as well as other garden city precincts throughout Canberra, including Ainslie, Braddon, Reid, Forrest, Griffith and Kingston.
Surveyor Charles Scrivener, when selecting the site for the capital in 1909, was under instruction to choose a site:
‘with a view to securing picturesqueness, and also with the object of beautification and expansion.’
(In Brine, J. et al. 2000. Reid Conservation Area Conservation Plan).
Walter Burley Griffin in 1912 provided the winning design for the nation’s capital, stating:
‘I have planned a city not like any other. I have planned it not in a way that I expected any government authority in the world would accept. I have planned an ideal city, a city that meets my ideal of the future.’
(In the New York Times, 2 June 1912).
Griffin envisaged a green city with tree-lined streets and open parks and gardens. His wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, contributed much to the success of his initial designs for the capital and his subsequent work here.
John Sulman, chairperson of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee (FCAC), was responsible for Canberra’s earliest subdivisions. He furthered Griffin’s planning for a garden city through the creation of large land titles, allowing low density residential development, garden settings, and wide nature strips.
Charles Weston, superintendent of Parks and Gardens from 1913 to 1926, was the man responsible for the planting of more than two million trees during this time.
[Photo 1 (top, RHS):]
Charles Scrivener and other surveying staff at Canberra. Scrivener is seated, second from right. 1910.
Credit: Mitchell Library. State Library of NSW D1_11821
[Photo 2 (middle):]
John Sulman, shown third from right, with other members of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee. c1922.
Credit: National Library of Australia AN11030057-442
[Photo 3 (bottom, LHS):]
Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, 1930.
Credit: National Library of Australia VN3113700
[Photo 4 (bottom, RHS):]
Charles Weston at Yarralumla Nursery in 1932.
Credit: National Archives of Australia A3560:233