Rutgers Univ Center for Urban, ISBN: 0882851314

One thing was for sure: the city of tomorrow would put to shame the city of yesterday, just as the refrigerator made the icebox obsolete. Another thing was for 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 world’s 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 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. The book is generously illustrated with a gathering of plans from the City Beautiful to the Italian Futurists, La 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.

Now in paperback from Transaction Publishers.