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Roof Over New York (1949)

It's amazing how popular the idea of roofing in an entire city was in the 20th century. The concept of one day controlling the weather was likely exciting because it meant absolute domination over nature and one's environment. I suspect to conquer weather was the penultimate in shaping humankind's destiny, while the ultimate was likely immortality. (Someone's still working on that one, right?)

This illustration from the August 28, 1949 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) depicts the future New York City skyline. The picture accompanies an article from Prof. A. M. Low, which we'll take a look at in the coming weeks.

CLIMATE "TO ORDER" -- One of the things to come, Professor A. M. Low points out, is likely to be the weather-controlled city. Using the famous New York skyline as a "model," the artist's conception, above, embodies some of the best scientific thinking of our time. "Roofs" like the one pictured may be constructed over cities and linked to skyscrapers to provide scientific control of weather. Open cross section of "roof" shows weather experts busy controlling temperature, etc.

Previously on Paleo-Future:


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Reader Comments (10)

Someone's still working on the roofing too!

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNova

You must find and reproduce the article I saw in Time Magazine circa 1978 about the small Vermont town that seriously considered doming itself to save on fuel.

Living underground might be more efficient for society, but too many people would want to have a view. Then again, if we all go VR, we'll have all the view we ever want and not care where our bodies are being stored.

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Jetson

Talk about a 9/11 nightmare - take out one tower, maybe two - crush half of NYC!

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

I know that Walt Disney's EPCOT concept had 50 acres of the downtown area enclosed... I think it is a brilliant idea, because it would make living conditions for humans more comfortable; free from wind, rain, snow, insects, and animals.

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanson

"Some of the best scientific thinking of our time". Yeah, right.

OMG, this is wrong on so many levels...

With the impression of living underneath a 6 square mile tombstone we can only guess how high depressions and suicides would soar. The use of experimental static, using no visible support for this roof whatsoever will add to the eerie impression this contraption must make on those who are doomed to live under it.

What happens if a freak blizzard unloads 15 feet of snow on top of it? Not to mention hurricanes... would make Katrina and the SuperDome look like a picnic. Also, the mere idea of positioning an airfield there, where whole new kinds of shearing winds will blow, the risk of overshooting the runway...

Also: why do the weathermen have to work *inside* the roof? "Scientific control of the weather"? Do they have sprinklers to make it rain or what? Do they close curtains if it gets too hot?

And what means climate "to order"? Who orders it? Can the mayor get elected by promising sunshine for all seasons? Is the Central Park Conservancy consulted for that?

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTimeFlies

great post!.. very informative!. thanks

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterroofers in leeds

Actually, the city of Minneapolis' downtown core is completely climate-controlled today. Nearly 80 blocks are enclosed and accessed via the 2nd-story skyway system. If you lived in a house with an attached garage, you wouldn't need a coat in the winter. You could drive downtown, park in a heated underground garage and connect internally to the system. More than 500 shops, theaters, restaurants, 2500 hotel rooms, the convention center - even the new baseball stadium are all connected. St. Paul and Calgary have similarly-sized systems. So there are actually cities "under glass" today!

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

Totally agree with the analysis Matt. Until we can get back into that archetypical Eden, we'll just keep looking for ways to submit nature to our will. I'd imagine if they built that roof over Manhattan in 1949, today we'd be discussing ways to cover that roof with yet another one.

August 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rosen

But who would control the weather controllers?

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBob

I wonder what they had done if severe winds blew into the roofed area from the sides. Shower curtains out of Unobtainium?

Best scientific thinking, indeed.

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiam

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