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Old Posted Jun 10, 2010, 2:24 PM
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Henry Ford's Farm City: July 1922

In an interview with us, Henry Ford suggested that instead of migrating to cities, people should industrialize the farm communities they already lived in. Although Ford admired the intellect and technological superiority of urban communities, he lamented their overcrowding and ugliness. His ideal semi-rural city, pictured left, would link neighborhoods around power-supplying dams. Traffic would run underground and city-dwellers would divide their time between farming and industry, depending on the season.

The City of Wonder: August 1925

Celebrated American architect Harvey Wiley Corbett, who designed the George Washington Masonic National Memorial building, predicted that by 1950, cities would use multi-level streets to deal with overcrowding. One level would be for pedestrians, two would be for traffic, and the bottom one would be for electric trains. The roofs of skyscrapers, which would themselves house playgrounds and schools, would serve as aircraft landing fields.

Multi-Level Superhighways: October 1927

In 1927, we imagined that cities would make ease of transportation its main priority. Trolley cars, telegraph poles, sidewalks, lamp-posts, and any other structures capable of blocking traffic would become obsolete. Pedestrians would meander through underground stores and moving streets between elevated highways.

"At night the sky will be brilliant with the reflected glare from below, as well as the lights of airships and dirigibles, and the route markings and traffic signs of airways and landing stages," we said of New York. Not so shabby a prediction.

The Underground City: June 1934

Professor Philip B. Bucky, of Columbia University, proposed adapting the design of mine shafts for creating an underground city capable of withstanding "the crushing load of thousands of feet of earth and rock." While we're skeptical of life without sunlight and Vitamin D, people back then anticipated year-round climates made possible by airconditioning and artifical light.

Elevated Express Highways: November 1939

Again with the elevated express highways! At the time, engineers were concerned about road congestion, but we can't imagine that traffic running between office buildings would make for a pleasant work environment.

Spoke City: June 1944

Dr. Martin Wagner, a former city planner for Berlin and a professor at Harvard, described slum-ridden cities as "mammoth monsters of ugliness, inefficiency, and distortion." He suggested that cities completely rebuild themselves from the ground up instead of attempting to modernize neighborhoods designed for horse-drawn traffic and wooden buildings. Wagner's city of the future would eliminate housing altogether so it could function efficiently as a center for business and pleasure. Government buildings, situated in the middle of cities, would be surrounded by "spokes" of museums, offices, and hotels. Spaces between buildings would be dedicated to parking lots and landing fields.

Cities in Space: May 1956

Darrell C. Romick, a scientist in the Goodyeaer Aircraft Company's aerophysics department, presented us with his blueprint for rotating, wheel-shaped city in space. The structure would not only house thousands of families, but its movements would simulate Earth's gravity. Pictured left is an artist's conception of Space City's construction. Crewmen wearing pressurized suits assemble cables to rockets, which serve as building units for an inhabitable space station.

Alaska's Glass Metropolis: March 1970

Seward's Success, while never built, was designed to enclose a community of 40,000 Alaskan residents beneath a climate-controlled glass dome. Since the proposed city didn't allow for cars, pedestrians would get around on moving sidewalks, bikes, and escalators.

Metropolis on Mars: March 1953

Sure, a Martian base housing 33 men isn't quite a metropolis, but it's a step in the right direction. A ring around plastic pod houses would capture solar heat, while wind generators would help power an artificial atmosphere.

Green Megalopolis: July 2008

While the growth of "megacities" may threaten to ruin our already-damaged environment, visionary scientists and engineers have come up with solutions that will allow cities to boom without endangering their residents' well-being. Features for the future's eco-friendly cities include electric pod cars, robot-controlled farms, and building facades that transport rainwater into purification centers.

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