Posts tagged “St. Louis

Touring Futurism

Posted on April 25, 2012

Seattle’s Space Needle turned 50 over the last weekend – a fitting moment, while standing on the cusp of “space tourism,” to cast our glance backward to historical visions of the future at tourist destinations. As NPR’s All Things Considered reported, its flying saucer-like, rotating observation deck retains its futuristic appeal desire the tower’s antiqueness (indeed, it is now eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places). Tourist attractions have long provided showcases for visions of the future. Nowhere has this forward-looking utopian sensibility been more carefully packaged than in the spate of world’s fairs between the 1890s and 1960s. Most of the visions simply expanded on emergent technologies such as electricity, but some were truly out of this world. The Pan-American…

Rethinking the Gateway

Posted on March 8, 2012

The mid-20th century saw many examples of freeways severing organic ties between cities and their waterfronts or, in many places, reinforcing patterns of public disuse of waterside districts cemented by decades of intensive industrial, railroad, and port development.  San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, of course, was an early signal of an emergent public outcry against privileging the automobile over the pedestrian at the water’s edge.  Taking cues from the freeway revolt in San Francisco, New Orleans activists brought aesthetic arguments to the fore in their battle against the Riverfront Expressway (originally planned by Robert Moses as part of an arterial expressway system for the Crescent City in the 1940s).  Where San Franciscans failed, New Orleanians prevailed.  They built upon their victory against the elevated roadway…