AFTER THE GREAT FIRE OF 1666, England’s leading architect, Sir Christopher Wren, made a plan for rebuilding London. Adopting a style fashionable in Europe, he proposed cutting across the city’s medieval fabric with broad diagonal avenues that would meet at Rond-Pointsa pattern already found on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and used again in L’Enfant’s Washington. Architects ever since have expressed outrage that Wren’s plan was not undertaken, but historians point out that the English monarch at the time lacked the power of a Louis XIV and could not stand against the vested interests of property owners and trade institutionsagainst the “stakeholders,” as we would call them now. After all, Wren’s plan would have been vastly out of character with both the London of his day and the city squares and town houses of the Georgian era, which provide perhaps our most pervasive
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