The City of the Future as Envisioned by the Early 20th Century (potential intro to paper)

In 1927, visionary German film director Fritz Lang showed the world what he thought the world would look like in 2026 in the unprecedented Metropolis. The city, monumental and glorious in its physical form, comes directly out of the first time he lay eyes on the skyscrapers he saw on his first trip to New York City in October 1924. The film depicts a dystopic society in which the working class slaves in the underbelly of the city to power the monumental City of Metropolis.

“Deep below the earth’s surface laid the worker’s city. As deep as lay the worker’s city lay underground, as high above towered the City of Metropolis.”

Through this dystopic society he makes a statement on the future of society based on the current working class situation in the 1920’s, “where total oppression and manipulation of the masses is wielded by the unquestionable power of the few”. The City of Metropolis itself is in its form quite spectacular, even for us nowadays. The complex network and development of the skyscraper he envisioned based on the technology of the time is incredible. The “Club of Sons”, one of the main towers of Metropolis is as multiuse tower for the elite, combining programs such as lecture halls, stadiums, theatres, athletic facilities, gardens and libraries. The shots depicting the aerial views of the city show a fantastic network of transportation, each type separated in its own corridor. The street below shows a pedestrian lane, a car lane and what seems to be either a bus or tram corridor in the centre, reminiscent of a BRT corridor. Rising above the street, weaving between buildings, are a series of walkways and bridges for pedestrians as well as elevated train tracks and finally many planes circulating gracefully between skyscrapers. This level of intricacy is really unbelievable when some cities are still unable to provide its citizens with an adequate public transit network. Lang was not the only one to believe in a layered street in the early 20th century. In fact, Harvey Wiley Corbett produced in 1913 a series of illustrations (gravures?) depicting cross sections through layers of transportation from underground metro to pedestrian bridges spanning between skyscrapers.
Apart from the planes flying through, for some cities, these depictions get quite close to reality. We will be looking towards Tokyo and Hong Kong to attempt to understand the complexity these cities have developed as a result of hyper density.

Posted by Caroline Duncan / 5.6 years ago / 743 hits

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