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The twentieth century has seen a grand procession of promises for the city. We would have cities of glittering white towers planted in green parks, as the great modern architect Le Corbusier dictated. Or we would have cities with no downtown, cities spread across the countryside with each family on its homestead, as Frank Lloyd Wright proposed. Or we would live in paradise on the 100th floor with our airplane hangared next door, as Hugh Ferriss and the other skyscraper Utopians of the 1920s promised. One thing was sure: the city of tomorrow would put to shame the city of yesterday, just as the refrigerator made the icebox obsolete. Another thing was certain, too: we would be happier, more peaceful (and productive) people. Here is Le Corbusier: "Free, man tends to geometry." And if we followed the "radiant harmony" of his geometry, he said, the worlds cities could become "irresistible forces stimulating collective enthusiasm, collective action, and general joy and pride, and in consequence individual happiness everywhere...the modern world would begin to emerge from behind its labor-blackened face and hands, and would beam around, powerful, happy, believing..." There were others-too many others to quote-who promised deliverance through their brands of architecture: the right angle, the curvilinear road in the park, the tower of glass. Each fervently preached that his was the magic geometry that, like tumblers on a lock, would open the way to the good life. Cosmopolis: Yesterday's Cities of the Future is a pattern book of expectations. Cosmopolis is generously illustrated with a gathering of plans from the City Beautiful to the Italian Futurists, The Cite Industrielle, World's Fair Utopias, science fiction visions, and the grand plans of the Moderns. Cosmopolis is the story of the ideal city we never achieved, and the great plans that went into making over precincts of our urban landscape.
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Table of Contents

A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow The Reforming Spirit The Civic Impulse The Garden City Vroadacre City The Radiant City La Cite Industriale The Glories of the Metropolis La Citta Nuova To the Sky To the Sky and Beyond Motopia Yesterday's City of Tomorrow Megastructure Toward Tomorrow

About the Author

Howard Mansfield is a writer who specializes in the fields of history, preservation, and architecture. His work has appeared widely in newspapers and professional journals including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Inland Architect. His books include Skylark: The Life, Lies and Inventions of Harry Atwood and Turn and Jump: How Time and Place Fell Apart.

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