Archive Gallery: The Cities of Tomorrow

Domed glass cities, schools within skyscrapers, rocket-ship neighborhoods and more as we cruise through the complete PopSci archive in search of the perfect urban life

We’ve been suffering futuristic city withdrawal since returning from the Shanghai World Expo 2010 last week, where we covered many exciting (and, alas, not-so-exciting) examples of progressive urban development.

Naturally, we turned to the archives for our fix of visionary city designs, and as you would expect, they are abundant with beautifully-illustrated imaginings of future metropolises since the 19th century.

Click to launch the photo gallery
Like contemporary architects, city planners from past generations were concerned with functionality as well as with aesthetics. At the rate cities were growing by the 1920s, people couldn’t help but worry that traffic congestion and overpopulation would create an unsuitable environment for children and businesspeople alike.

At the same time, city-dwellers were eager to see skyscrapers tower over the horizon and airships dotting the skies. Then there was the problem (or perhaps prospect) of limited land space and the subsequent necessity of migrating off-planet. Could we build a metropolis on Mars? It shouldn’t be impossible, we thought, given how we redesigned city streets to accommodate cars instead of carriages. And after cave cities and skyscraper landing fields, why not? People moved to cities in pursuit of a dream, and with that same spirit, urban planners envisioned novel solutions for the cities of tomorrow.

Check through our gallery to see 10 imaginings of a better city throughout the ages.