Kaufmann sitting by his side. Wright, you can start tomorrow. Broadacre City model, January 1, More than 55 years have passed since the first public exhibition of the Broadacre City models. Exhibitions continued in the United States through
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When we unpack them, we see that Wright contextualized Broadacre within a larger discourse that was sounding the alarm about the social, economic, and environmental problems created under capitalism at the turn of the twentieth century. Two additional panels provide clues. These vertical markers offer a kind of bibliography to students of Broadacre and included in the list of names are notable activists and critics of laissez-faire capitalism, such as Henry George, Edward Bellamy, and Thorstein Veblen [Fig.
These reformers were concerned about a broad range of questions related to capitalism, especially the labor exploitation and economic and social inequality that seemed to result from industrialization. Like many progressive reformers, Wright was troubled by the human cost of industrialization under capitalism—monotonous work, exploitation, the widening gap between the rich and poor, and so forth—and argued that the machine could solve such problems if used humanely.
He imagined that the efficiencies of machine production could reduce the average workday by half—freeing up large amounts of time for the citizens of Broadacre to pursue their own interests—while still producing the goods necessary for modern life. Bellamy imagines a future society set in the year in which the problems created by industrialization and capitalism are solved through social coordination. For example, the state owns and manages all production to ensure that the goods of society are equally distributed to its citizens; working hours, especially for menial jobs, are drastically reduced; and everyone retires with full benefits.
For Wright, consumption was as much a part of the problem as production, an idea advanced in by Thorstein Veblen in his seminal text The Theory of the Leisure Class. How does Wright propose to remedy these problems in Broadacre City? Owners could use it as their residence, but also as a place of business or to grow their own food, thus ensuring their economic independence.
The security that land ownership conferred, Wright argued, solved the problems of unemployment and labor exploitation because subsistence was certain and thus workers were empowered to reject disagreeable labor. Credit would be socialized, created and controlled by the State for defense, public works, and all social services. Gesell, whose writings were enjoying a revival in the s, proposed a form of perishable currency, whereby banknotes issued at the beginning of the year would lose a fixed percentage of its face value by the end of the year.
Such sweeping changes demanded that Wright rethink the role of government. First, it was vital to eliminate politics from government. Because this arrangement was local and direct, it encouraged public participation in the political process and thus was arguably more democratic.
Services such as fire and police protection, banking and money, construction and maintenance of shared infrastructure, and mail delivery were among the public needs that Wright conceded to government. But the most important power of the State was in its capacity as realtor.
Land, the backbone of wealth and freedom in Broadacre, was distributed by the State with the assistance of the county architect. Indeed, the Broadacre exhibition toured to Washington, D.
Moreover, Wright clearly is not anathema to nationalizing the resources of the country. How can this be reconciled? One possibility is that the social and economic programs advanced by Roosevelt in the s did not go far enough to satisfy Wright. They were progressive patches to ameliorate the problems of a capitalist system left mostly intact.
Though the logic of late capitalism differs from its previous expressions, we find ourselves facing similar questions. How can we address the widening gap between the rich and the poor?
How can we reform government to better meet our collective goals? How can we overcome our differences to create fair and inclusive communities? In the s, critics lambasted Broadacre as simultaneously communist, fascist, and socialist.
Others seized upon its impossibility, as an urban plan or social organization. More recently, historians have pointed to the inherently unequal and racist presumptions underlying any system based on private property given its barriers to entry, now and in the s.
Wright attempted to grapple with the most challenging and intractable questions of his time, questions that linger today. We may disagree with his answers, but I would like to suggest that it is the questions, not the solutions, that make Wright of continued relevance to our own time.
She studies modern architecture, with an emphasis on how activists and designers used architecture, cities, and landscape to advance social and spatial justice at the turn of the 20th century.
As Dr. Advertisement "He imagined himself as someone who could solve a huge number of social issues and social problems through design," Lapping says. In his book The Disappearing City, Wright explained that the answer to the problem of how the people of this utopian community might buy goods. The gas station would become the most important marketplace of Broadacres: In the gasoline service station may be seen the beginning of an important advance agent of decentralization by way of distribution and also the beginning of the establishment of the Broadacre City. Wherever the service station happens to be naturally located, these now crude and seemingly insignificant units will grow and expand into various distributing centers for merchandise of all sorts.
Revisiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision for “Broadacre City”