El Salvador President Envisions Retro-Futurist ‘Bitcoin City’

In the same week that the cryptocurrency’s value took a nosedive, the president of El Salvador unveiled a model for a volcano-powered ‘smart city.’

May 18, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

San Salvador, El Salvador - September 15th, 2021: Protesters walk in the streets of the city against the bitcoin policies of current president Nayib Bukele.

Protesters walk in the streets of San Salvador against the bitcoin policies of current president Nayib Bukele. | Guayo Fuentes / Protesters in El Salvador, September 2021

A year after his country started accepting Bitcoin as legal tender, the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, unveiled a plan for a high-tech ‘Bitcoin city.’ Los Angeles Times arts and urban design columnist Carolina A. Miranda reports on the president’s announcement, which came via a series of tweets.

“How the city might be zoned and how its myriad buildings might be used went unexplained by Bukele on Twitter,” Miranda notes, but the model indicates it would be arranged in a radial design. Knowing the radial city plan’s long history, Miranda writes, “it’s rather comical to see Bukele, a populist with a penchant for dictator theatrics (have a look at his TikTok), turn to a design of the past — one that has lost favor for its separation of uses and its attendant sprawl — for his city of the future.”

Miranda points out that the project is unlikely to become a reality. “But, ultimately, what Bukele and Romero were presenting wasn’t so much a city as it was a bit of absurdist theater — one to prop up Bukele’s image as a high-tech innovator in a country plagued by real-world problems related to the drug trade and gangs.”

Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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