A city that never was

3 Aug

The domed city is a staple of science fiction, but none have been built so far. A few have made it to the drawing boards, however. In 1970, the planning for this one, in Alaska, made it further than most.  This from March 1970 Popular Science:

An Entire City Under Glass

An Alaskan metropolis will begin to take shape this summer to provide offices and homes for 40,000 live-ins who will enjoy a year-round ideal climate.

The world’s first completely enclosed city will start to rise in a few months, and eventually will house 40,000 people in a climate-controlled environment. The city is being built two miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska, and is named – with a respectful bow to a damaged reputation – Seward’s Success. It was designed by Adrian Wilson Associates, of Los Angeles, to accommodate the enormous boom that Anchorage is expected to enjoy because of Alaska’s oil bonanza. Appropriately, the first of the Seward’s Success central buildings will be called the Alaskan Petroleum Center. Within it will be headquartered many oil companies, banks, geological services, consulting agencies, and oil-field service companies. A hotel operated by a major chain will face the commercial mall.

Buildings that go up in the first phase of construction will cost $170 million and provide living accommodation for the first 5,000 residents. There will also be 600,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, and a completely enclosed sports arena. Power for all of this will be generated on the site from abundant natural gas. Construction will go on all year, with warm-air-filled balloon tents enclosing the site during winter months.

Transportation from downtown Anchorage across Knik Arm, an inlet that separates Seward’s Success from the Alaskan metropolis, will be by high-speed aerial tramway. Under the second phase of construction, the tramway will be supplemented by a monorail, which will circle the city, return to Anchorage, and then go on to the International Airport.  Crossing Knik Arm via water is impractical because of the 21- to 34-foot tidal flow. Within the city, residents will get about on moving sidewalks, escalators, and bicycle paths. Automobiles will not be allowed inside the city; the tramway will carry residents to a garage area at Anchorage.

  • An aerial tram will carry travelers between Seward’s Success and Anchorage. Travel within the glass-enclosed city will be on moving sidewalks, a rail system beneath the city’s spine, or bicycle paths. No cars will be permitted, so there will be no exhaust to pollute the air.

  • Commercial mall in Seward’s Success is “spine” of the covered city. The moving sidewalks for shoppers and other pedestrians cover a rail system that is sunk beneath the mall. A hotel run by a major chain will front onto commercial plaza.

  • Home looks like this in glassed-in city. All housing units are inter-connected around a residential plaza. Eventually 40,000 people will be permanent residents of the all-new center.

There’s a short article about it in Wikipedia:

Seward’s Success was an unbuilt planned community proposed for construction in Point MacKenzie, north of Anchorage, Alaska, United States. To be built across the Knik Arm, the megaproject gained a degree of international notoriety as it was to have been climate-controlled, completely enclosed with a dome. The community was envisioned to have a build-out of 40,000[1] residents complete with ample residential, office and commercial space within the dome. Transportation between the community and Anchorage was to have been via aerial tramway and monorail. Originally proposed in 1968, by 1972 the project was canceled. Its name is a play on the saying “Seward’s Folly” in referencing the criticism received by Secretary of State William H. Seward upon the Alaskan Purchase in 1867.

A few other proposed “Domed Cities” are mention here:

However, none of these articles mention the single biggest advantage of a domed city. Here’s Jessica 6 (the lovely Jenny Agutter) from the movie Logan’s Run, reminding us what the absence of weather can do to fashions:


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