Alternate Moscow

<img src="" alt="" width="400" align="left"/><img src=" industry.jpg" alt="" width="400 align="right" /><br /> <br /> <br /> Check out the Moscow that never was -- but might have been, if Stalin had gotten his way.The <a href="">architectural designs</a> are in the City Beautiful vein, typical of egotistical rulers and their capital city makeovers. So yeah, there's that Daniel Burnham/<a href="">Chicago</a>

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April 7, 2005, 12:48 PM PDT

By Anonymous (not verified)

Check out the Moscow that never was -- but might have been, if Stalin had gotten his way.The architectural designs are in the City Beautiful vein, typical of egotistical rulers and their capital city makeovers. So yeah, there's that Daniel Burnham/Chicago vibe, replete with ultrawidescreen plazas and monumental buildings. And because it was the 1930s, you get some classicism mixed in with Hugh Ferris pulp science-fiction. But then, on top of all that you'll see some indomitable socialist modernism, the same stuff you can see in Revolutionary avant-gardism. Architecture was always a part of that artistic movement, expressing similar freedom of form and technological optimism. At least, that's how the art always looks to me.

Crazy constructvism and futurism and suprematism all tried to find inspiration in the giant machines driving the Industrial Revolution. You never would have wanted to live in one of these cities, or go to work in one of these buildings, unless you were Batman.

Or would you? I totally get the feeling of pride that comes from walking around an impressive city. Not to go all September-11 on you, but I remember taking the elevator to the top of the World Trade Center, to the observation deck, to check out a chess tournament back when I was working for Newsweek. The elevator doors opened just a few feet back from a floor-to-ceiling window -- I don't even remember which direction it faced. But my first reaction when those doors opened was a wave of vertigo, and an exclaimed "holy shit!"

Human-scaled cities. New urbanism. Walkable shopping streets. Parks. Cities integrated into the natural environment. You know I'm down with the program.

But cities -- and more precisely, skyscrapers -- are some of the best things people make, collaborative programmatic performance art. They are fists we shake at the sky. They scream at the universe, like Steve McQueen floating on the coconuts at the end of Papillon: "I'm still here, you bastards!"

That's the Revolution talking.


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