Thanks to my friend R, today I paid a visit to an exhibit at the University of Cincinnati called Victory City. It details the modernist vision of Cincinnati native Orville Simpson II. As the University news release describes it, Simpson “conceived of model cities as self-contained, 102-story towers, sited in pristine agricultural landscapes providing farm-fresh food for daily consumption. Connections to other cities and distant sites were envisioned as taking place via monorail, reducing the transportation footprint on the land. With his plans, Simpson hoped to eliminate air pollution, traffic jams and urban sprawl.”
Simpson envisioned these enormous city-structures being built and maintained all over the world by a private corporation. As detailed on the Victory Cities website, the food system would do away with all grocery stores, food processors, and the like. Instead, fresh produce would be brought in every day from farms surrounding the city and the onsite fish farm and poultry center, cooked in giant kitchens, and served in cafeterias via the Circl-Serv Cafeteria System. (Surprisingly, the linked page has a photo of a Circl-Serv model with a University of Wisconsin credit.) As R noted, what folks in cold winter climates will do for food between fall and spring if there’s no more canning or processing of produce receives no mention.
Like similar utopian visions of a modern future, this one seems predicated on the idea of scientific perfectibility, i.e., if we get the engineering right, everything will be trouble-free, with no unintended consequences and no need for further innovation. I don’t think I’ll be signing up as an investor anytime soon.