Shannon Mattern on how the 1939 World’s Fair anticipated our current obsession with urban data science and “smart” cities.

Exhibits at the 1939 World’s Fair. Left: Consolidated Edison, “City of Light.” [New York Public Library] Right: General Motors, “Futurama.” [General Motors]
The World of Tomorrow, Leonard Wallock writes, “was the city’s perfected dream of itself.” It manifested desires for “scientific rationality, technological progress, modernist aesthetics, industrial design … consumer prosperity, and … corporate capitalism” in spatial form, via rational urban planning and progressive civil engineering, modernist architecture and sterilized suburbs. Just as important — though much less discussed — was the dream of efficient urban administration. (more…)