Utopian Industrial City Becomes Model For Urban Disarray

<p>Planners intended Ciudad Guayana to be the "Pittsburgh of the tropics". Today, the city has lost its former prosperity and is grappling with a array of urban epidemics.</p>
August 20, 2007, 1pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela - When a group of urban planners from Harvard and M.I.T. arrived here in the early 1960s to design an industrial city almost entirely from scratch, they envisioned a "Pittsburgh of the tropics" that could anchor industrialization and population growth in southeastern Venezuela.

That vision of a city for 250,000 people materialized into a place known for its relative prosperity. But as the population grew - it is now estimated at one million - and some of the competition for land and jobs grew violent, Ciudad Guayana has become emblematic of a new kind of urban disarray. Its problems are attracting scrutiny as President Hugo Chávez embarks on a phase of utopian city building."

""Today, we share the same problems as the rest of Venezuela," said Leopoldo Villalobos, a prominent historian who lives here and who has tracked the city's evolution."

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Published on Monday, August 20, 2007 in The New York Times
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