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Venice had the good fortune to be planned by one of America's top early-20th-century city planners: John Nolen.


John Nolen (1869 - 1937) was an outstanding American landscape architect and city planner between the World Wars. His finest creation, and an excellent example of the interwar Garden City urban design movement, is the city of Venice, Florida.

Orphaned at a young age, Nolen studied finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School before moving on to Harvard's School of Landscape Architecture, where he studied under Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son and successor of the founder of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.

Florida, with its climate similar to that of the Mediterranean, offered Nolen the opportunity to design cities that were attractive, pleasant, efficient and healthful, and that fostered cultural growth.

In 1925, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers invested in the Florida land boom, buying 33,000 acres which included what is now Venice.

Nolen's detailed city plan provided for numerous parks, playgrounds and recreational spaces, a golf course, broad avenues linking the city's various sections and its natural features such as the long, broad beaches along the Gulf of Mexico shore.

John Nolen's city plan for Venice, Florida

A Civic Center would foster society and culture, schools were planned for eduscation and family, and churches for spiritual tranquillity.

Nolen was largely successful in protecting his plan from the dysfunctional results of unplanned commercial and speculative development.

This idealistic—some would say socialistic—concept from the 1920s has provided a century of fine living for Venice's residents.

For contrast, compare it to the luxury gated real estate communities developed inland from Nolen's original city plan during the past few decades. These golf course communities, developed privately and profitably, provide gracious living for those individuals and families fortunate enough to be able to afford them. Each gated development, separated from the next, is reached by private car. Individual fulfillment is emphasized, while community and society enrichment are largely left to develop without plan, as they may (or may not).

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John Nolen (1869-1937)

John Nolen (1869 - 1937)