C. W. Wooldridge

Perfecting the Earth: a Piece of Possible History. Cleveland: The Utopia Publishing Company, 1902: 39, 48-57.

Wooldridge (1847-1908) was a native of Hull, England who came to Michigan as a child. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1877 and from its medical department in 1877. For twelve years, beginning in 1890, he practiced medicine in Cleveland. Perfecting the Earth was his third and last book, one written shortly before he left Cleveland to live in Montana.

The first sentence of his Preface tells the reader that he believes his ideas are practical and feasible: "This is a Utopian book, but its Utopia is the clouds; on the contrary it is worked out with much detail." In it Wooldridge looked ahead a dozen years to a time when a large standing army--no longer needed for military purposes-- could be put to work constructing a model city in northeastern Utah named Fort Goodwill. Two drawings, one a sketch plan of the city and its irrigated agricultural lands and the other a design for one of the modular units of the city, accompany the following description. As in other works describing the future in fictional terms, the author often uses the past tense in mentioning features that are in fact being proposed.

Radiating through a center chosen in this city site, four main avenues were located, one in the meridian line through that center, another at right angles with this, while the other two bisected the quadrants along the lines from northeast to southwest, and from southeast to northwest.

The industrial works were planned to occupy a portion of the tract below the city terrace but above the irrigating canal, and the section of this tract lying between the western continuation of the avenue extending directly westward from the proposed city center and the southwest avenue, was devoted to that purpose....

In preparation for building the city the ground had been platted on a double system of streets and avenues. The primary system has already been mentioned.... At the point of intersection of these avenues it was intended ultimately to place a grand public edifice, and the avenues radiating from this center were considered and named as eight, thus: Beginning with the one running north, North Meridian avenue, North East avenue, Eastern avenue, South east avenue, South Meridian avenue, South West avenue, Western avenue, and North West avenue. To these, as part of the primary system, must be added the Park Front avenue. This lies in a broken line generally parallel to the terrace slope that borders the city plateau, but descending at its western end obliquely to join the continuation of the Western avenue on the level of the industrial district below. This avenue marks the border of the city proper, being platted for buildings on the north side only, while the south side facing the hill slope was reserved for park purposes....

Superimposed on this primary system of avenues is the secondary system, dividing the city into blocks each one-half mile square by streets running north and south and east and west....

In completing the plan adopted for laying out the city of Fort Goodwill, while latitude was allowed for variation to adapt each individual block to special circumstances, a normal type of block was chosen in the beginning, according to the accompanying plan.

This normal block was laid out thus: Each of its four sides, half a mile, or 2,640 feet in length, was divided into ten equal parts of 264 feet each. From these points of division lines were drawn parallel to each of the four sides of the block, thus dividing it into strips of equal width parallel to its four sides, each strip, counting from the outside toward the center of the block, being shortened to avoid crossing the strips on the adjacent sides in the course external to it. Each corner, on which strips of the same number from the border of the block cross each other, was reserved for common use. From each of these strips on its outer edge 50 feet was set off for street purposes; two of these 50 foot strips falling together on the borders of two adjoining blocks constitute the secondary system of streets already mentioned. At the corners of each such block the squares formed by the crossing of the external strips on the sides of each of the four blocks meeting at such corners, together with the 50 feet corresponding to the width of the first internal street, forms a square reserved for public purposes, each side of which measures 628 feet. The centers of each of these squares were the sites chosen for the public buildings....

The 50 foot strips internal to each block being designed to serve as parkways between lines of residence lots without fences, on which the houses were to stand well back, were of ample width. To complete the system of internal thoroughfares in each such block, other 50 foot strips were laid out through the center of the block, parallel to the sides, dividing the block into quarters and bisecting each residence strip, while the squares reserved to the public overlapping each other along the diagonal lines furnished ample space for roadways there. Thus within a very short distance from any point in the city a thoroughfare was provided along a straight line to very near any other point, with no acute angles to turn, while the building lots were all right angled and square with the world.

The portion of each such block remaining on which to build houses consisted of strips each 214 feet wide, affording ample space for houses fronting each side of each street or parkway, with space enough for lawns, trees and flowers about each house. The entire model block provides such space for about 600 residences, which, if occupied each by a normal sized family of five, would give a total population of three thousand on each such block of half a mile square; the central sections were left open in each block to form a public park or playground, 528 feet in extent on each side.

In working out this plan the public buildings placed on the corner squares as described would, of course, terminate the vista on all the street forming the divisions between the blocks. Where such streets or corners coincided with the main avenues of the primary system, however, the public buildings were set on one side and the plan of the block modified accordingly, these main avenues being designed to be clear throughout their entire extent, with the exception of the great city hall at their intersection in the center of the city.

About this intersection a quarter of each of the four adjacent blocks was reserved without buildings, for park purposes, thus making a central park about the city hall half a mile square.

The borders of all the streets and avenues, together with the central squares in the blocks and the squares reserved for common use along the diagonals of the blocks, were turned over to the charge of the board of forestry and landscape gardening for ornamentation, with the provision that the central square of each block, while to be planted with a sufficient number of trees, was to be especially fitted as a playground for children. 

Selected, scanned, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: 
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