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You Don't Really Want To Live In This Shiny Retrofuturistic City

Illustration for article titled You Dont Really Want To Live In This Shiny Retrofuturistic City

We love the look of retrofuturistic cities — the clean cut skylines, the beautifully-turned metalwork, the occasionally almost gravity defying twists and turns of the architecture. But what would it really be like to live in one of them? Possibly quite nightmarish, it turns out.


After looking at these dreamy pictures of American cities drawn to the long-ago-imagined visions of their coming futures, commenter James Ryan came along and burst our collective bubble with this little dose of architectural reality:

No, you don't [want] this. At least this version...

Seriously, one of the big issues with New York through a good portion of the 20th Century was the elevated lines, the "El." These trains blocked light from hitting the sidewalk and bathed the streets with constant noise; you can still see signs of this on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

Illustration for article titled You Dont Really Want To Live In This Shiny Retrofuturistic City

This picture from 1940 of Ninth Avenue, also known as Columbus Avenue, gives you some sense of what would have occurred had they gone as crazy with the overheads as these drawings suggest they would have. The move for putting the trains underground was propelled in large part by the desire to have sunlight reach the sidewalks. Had the El continued to span the city, New York would be a far less hospitable place today.

What do you think? Would you want to take your chances in one of these gorgeous potential future cities, design flaws or not? Or is this just another dystopia we should be grateful to have dodged?


Top image: Klaus Burgle (1969) via James Vaughan

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Meh, I'll just assume the trains are powered by some futurey handwavium that's whisper-quiet and take my chances.

In all seriousness though, all those wonderful monumental cityscapes that digital artists love to do (and I love to look at them) probably feel oppressive as hell from the ground floor. The only one I can think of that looks actually liveable is the Nova Corps city from Guardians of the Galaxy; it has a nice mix of uber-and human-sized buildings that make it feel like a city, instead of something that will make some badass ruins in a thousand years. And parks! Not just stylish concrete and metal as far as the eye can see! Yay!