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Entries in city planning (4)

Tuesday
Jan062009

Rejuvenated Downtowns (1959)


The March 1, 1959 edition of Arthur Radebaugh's Closer Than We Think! featured "rejuvenated downtowns" of the future. I travel the United States often imagining what the downtowns of our major cities once looked like. Few American downtowns are thriving, or barely surviving. The downtown of the city in which I live (St. Paul, MN) is certainly struggling. Good luck finding much open past 5PM.

Radebaugh's mention of downtown Detroit is particularly jarring for our 2009 eyes. The recent photo essay in Time magazine titled, "The Remains of Detroit" really says it all. I recently picked up the book Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950, which appears to shed some light on precisely what happened to the American urban center.

The text from "Rejuvenated Downtowns" appears below. Thanks again to Tom Z. for the color scans.

Traffic-choked downtown sections will be rejuvenated and transformed into airy, wide pedestrian malls when the designs of city planners are adopted in a none-too-distant future.

 

Large-scale plans and programs are springing up all over the country. One example is fashionable Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, being studied today for conversion into a traffic-free shopping promenade. Another is utilitarian Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. There are many more in between.

Traffic will be parked in adjoining areas. Store fronts will be modernized and beautified. New lighting at night and newly planted trees, shrubs and flowers will give these malls an exciting air. The aim is to regain for downtowns their former status as urban headquarters.

Next week: All-Seeing Eye


Previously on Paleo-Future:
California Cities in the Year 2000 (1961)
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Experimental City of the Future (1967)
Walt Disney and City Planning

 

Saturday
Jan032009

Horizontal Cities of 2031 (1931)

The December 6, 1931 Daily Capital News and Post-Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) ran a short blurb about Francis Keally's predictions for the city of 2031. Keally (1889-1978) was an architect who worked on the Oregon state capitol building in Salem, which was completed in 1938.

Francis Keally thinks that our future cities will spread out over great areas like monstrous eagles. One hundred years from today we shall have no batteries of skyscrapers to point out to our trans-Atlantic visitors. On the contrary our future cities, because of the aerial eye, will be flat-topped, and two out of every three buildings will serve as some kind of landing area for a super-auto gyroplane or a transcontinental express. What towers there are will be built at a great distance from the airports and will serve as mooring masts for giant dirigibles. The architects of our future aerial cities may have to go back to places like Constantinople and Fez for their inspiration of these future flat-topped aerial cities where one finds a low horizontal character to the entire city, occasionally broken here and there by a praying tower or a minaret.

Francis Keally also had an idea in the August, 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics for glass banks.

Previously on Paleo-Future:
The Family Plane of 2030 A.D. (1930)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)

Sunday
May112008

Experimental City of the Future (1967)


The January 22, 1967 Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA) ran this illustration of an experimental city of the future.

Typical Experimental City may look like this. At left is computerized communications complex; at center lies atomic power plant, while at right is greenhouse for vegetables and greenery.


See also:
Transportation in 2000 A.D. (1966)
Personal Helicopter (1943)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)

 

Sunday
Mar042007

Walt Disney and City Planning

"Imagineers said that when they were planning Tomorrowland, Walt would carry around books on city planning and mutter about traffic, noise, and neon signs, and he kept three volumes in his office to which he frequently referred: Garden Cities of Tomorrow by Sir Ebenezer Howard (originally published in 1902 and reissued in 1965), which promoted a vision of a more pastoral urban life; and The Heart of Our Cities and Out of a Fair, a City, both by an architect and mall designer name Victor Gruen, who urged the reconceptualization of the city as more ordered, rational and humane."

(excerpted from p. 608 in Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler)

Also, it looks like a new 2007 edition of Garden Cities of Tomorrow just came out.