A major part of the renovation was the almost obsessive destruction of the tenements. Many of Glasgow's poorest citizens had lived in cramped, substandard one-room accommodation for decades in areas like the Gorbals. In the 1960s, following a trip to Marseilles to see the new tower blocks being erected there by the famous architect Le Corbusier (such as the Unité d'Habitation, left), the council's policy was to demolish tenements across the city and re-house Glasgow's poorest residents in marvellous new tower blocks.
Even with the New Towns created at East Kilbride and Cumbernauld, the massive relocation of people happened mostly within Glasgow's city boundary, with the creation of districts like Easterhouse. Some cynics have claimed this was done to prevent the left-wing city council losing too many working class voters.
Either way, all of this was part of the one big plan: the renovation, effectively, of an entire city. Clearing out the tenements and re-homing their inhabitants in tower blocks freed up valuable space for new infrastructure. Areas like Springburn saw people stacked vertically to make way for the A803 Springburn Expressway which now slices the area in two.
A different approach
When the City of Glasgow appointed consultants to develop first its highway plans, and later its whole transportation strategy, the proposals they drew up were unlike any other plan produced in Britain. The reason was that they had followed American practice.
The whole concept of urban area renewal on such a scale was alien to the UK but had a precedent in the US, so when Scott & Wilson, Kirkpatrick & Partners were asked to consider the regeneration of Scotland's largest urban area they found that best practice had been established across the Atlantic. At least one expedition of representatives from Glasgow City Council and the consultants went and explored the extensive freeway networks on the east coast of America. They returned buzzing with ideas about a hierarchical structure of roads, elevated freeways and the wholesale regeneration of huge swathes of a city.
The resulting proposals were incredibly co-ordinated. Re-housing plans, for example, had new residential districts planned in connection with proposed new roads. Each phase of the plan dropped in to place with precise knowledge of how later schemes would tie in.
How this manifested itself on the ground is explored on the next page.