9/9/11

Marshall McLuhan The City Of The Future

The end of the line.
The railway radically altered the personal outlooks
and patterns of social interdependence. It bred
and nurtured the American Dream. It created to-
tally new urban, social, and family worlds. New
ways of work. New ways of management. New
legislation.

The technology of the railway created the myth of a
green pasture world of innocence. It satisfied
man's desire to withdraw from society, symbolized
by the city, to a rural setting where he could
recover his animal and natural self. It was the pas-
toral ideal, a Jeffersonian world, an agrarian de-
mocracy which was intended to serve as a guide
to social policy. It gave us darkest suburbia and
its lasting symbol: the lawnmower.

The circuited city of the future will not be the huge
hunk of concentrated real estate created by the
railway. It will take on a totally new meaning under
conditions of very rapid movement. It will be an
information megalopolis. What remains of the con-
figuration of former "cities" will be very much
like World's Fairs—places in which to show off new
technology, not places of work or residence. They
will be preserved, museumlike, as living monu-
ments to the railway era. If we were to dispose of
the city now, future societies would reconstruct
them, like so-many Williamsburgs.

The end of the line.