Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Closer Than We Think! Polar City (1959)

The January 25, 1959 Chicago Tribune ran this picture of the "Polar City of the Future" as a part of the Closer Than We Think! series.

As Alaska joins the union, more rapid development of the vast open spaces of that new state can be expected. Experts are already studying the problems involved in creating the population centers that will be necessary for tapping the hidden-wealth of the area and building the defense outposts that may be required.

One possibility would be to construct arctic cities under great domes of transparent plastic or glass, where springlike temperatures could be maintained. Such domes are already in use at the Glasgow Central Station in Scotland and at a big downtown plaza in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

How would isolated polar cities, ringed by icebergs and mountains, be supplied? Our armed forces have a solution - the dirigible. Recently, the Navy told how its blimp ZPG-2 successfully flew food and other supplies to an ice island team of scientists only 500 miles from the North Pole.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Closer Than We Think! Monoline Express (1961)
Closer Than We Think! Lunar Mailbag (1960)


Anonymous said...

A domed city in the frozen Arctic, supplied by a fleet of blimps.

Man, the pretend future is always SO much cooler than the real one! :(

Anonymous said...

For a splash of reality, compare this with a story in yesterday's NY Times about villagers in Alaska's bush reverting to dogs and kayaks because the trucked-in refined gas is over $8.00 a gallon now (and it's not only used for engines, but also to generate their electricity).

Why do visions of the future always include domed cities? There's never any discussion, even a hint, of what miraculous technology would allow us to build an integral, thin and transparent dome hundreds to thousands of meters wide. That technology would be far more revolutionary and advanced than any mag-lev train or personalized flying car.

Anonymous said...

The roof of the Glasgow Central Station doesn't look like that dome at all :(

Mark Plus said...

Why do visions of the future always include domed cities?

Well, Buckminster Fuller from the 1950's through his death in the early 1980's made a career of plugging his defective Geodesic Dome invention as the wave of future housing. He even proposed building them over cities, and building Geodesic Spheres which he claimed could support a city on the inside but would float in the air like a balloon.

While Geodesic Domes look pretty cool, they don't work as practical shelters because you can't seal all the complicated linkages in them against leaks. Despite that obvious drawback, a surprising number of them went up in the 1950's and 1960's, including over the South Pole station. But who the hell builds Geodesic Domes these days?

Nonetheless, Fuller still has a kind of cult following, even though you won't likely run into any products on a daily basis based on his patents, unlike the case for a great many other 20th Century inventors who have something useful to show for their lives.

Anonymous said...

... But at least the geodesic dome is "do-able" -- assembled piece by piece, and (I believe) self-supporting as it rises. The domes portrayed in futuramas are generally one-piece structures -- like one giant section of an even more giant glass sphere. Even if self-supporting once built, *how* would it be built?


This is very interesting blog post. I am reseraching and advocating polar cities NOW as part of a global warming warning project. See my blog at climatechange3000.blogspot.com

Here's my take:

You know the story. Climate change is for real. In the future, maybe in 500 years, maybe in 100 years, maybe in 300 years, maybe even not until 1000 more years, but someday, I believe, humankind will need to have sustainable polar retreats to house remnants of humankind who might be able to survive the coming big global warming event. I got the idea, of course, from James Lovelock, who has said in several interviews that he believes only a few breeding pairs (of humans) might be able to survive in polar regions. He said that in the Guardian recently. After I read that, I had a eureka moment, as they say, and I envisioned the need to start thinking about, designing, planning and maybe even building, NOW, when we still have time and resources and transportation and fuel, NOW, polar cities and towns in both polar regions.

I realize this is a radical idea. I realize most people won't accept what I am blogging about. That's okay. This is just something to make you think HARD about what we are getting into, with global warming for real and all that. Maybe the radicalness of my idea will be perceived as so far out as to be rejected by most people. However, even if this blog makes people THINK more about what they can do in the global warming fight, then good! For example, we need to get the world population way down, soon, to about one billion people, by 2500. How? We need to stop using cars, ships, coal-burning power plants and airplanes NOW. Well, soon. Who is ready?

So this polar cities blog is online for two reasons: one is to actually contribute the idea of real sustainable polar retreats for the future, to house those who might remain, so that someday they can go back to the middle regions and repopulate the Earth. The other reason for this blog is to get people to take global warming seriously and start doing something concrete in their lives about it. Because if a human being in 2007 can even "think" about or ponder the very idea of polar cities to house remnants of humankind, then we are really in deep trouble.

Here are some questions that must be asked:

1. Who will go to live in these northern and southern polar cities, first envisioned by James Lovelock, and others?

2. Who will decide who gets to live there? The UN? The big rich countries? Who?

3. Who will design and build these sustainable polar cities and towns, and where? Sites?

4. Should they be built now, when we have time and resources and air transport and fuel available, and get them ready for the future when the world MIGHT need them, or should we wait until later, when it might be too late to build things or transport materials?

5. How many people can these polar cities and towns support? 100,000? One million? More?

6. . Who will govern and rule these polar cities?

7. Will the children of rich and powerful people from developed nations go first? To these cities, that is.

10. Who will plan for food resoruces, enterainment, TV, radio, newpapers, Internet, money there?

11. How long will the Global WINTER last? 100 years, 10,000 years, 100,000 years? More?

12. Are we in big trouble, caused mostly by our own hands on the CO2 spigot all these years? What can we do to solve the problem?

12. How to repopulate the middle regions of the Earth once an hospitable climate comes BACK to to those areas after the long global winter, the day after tomorrow, so to speak?

13. What will be left down there in the middle regions? Cities? Wasteland?



Subject: "Polar City Red" looking for Hollywood deal!

Dear Hollywood Player,

I need an agent/producer to help bring a global warming sci-fi
thriller to the silver screen, either as a theatrical movie or a TV
movie. This is fiction, but it is based on my current reseach, which
is getting worldwide attention via the Internet. The working title of
the movie is "Polar City Red". It is about a polar city in the far
distant future, which houses remnants of humanity who have survived
global warming in the North Pole area and whose "breeding pairs"
remainthe only hope for the continuation of humankind on Earth. The
year: 2500, maybe 3500. Not so far away, maybe even sooner than that.

My name is Danny Bloom. See my blog at
http://climatechange3000.blogspot.com and see the Wikipedia entry
under "Polar Cities". Also google the term "Polar Cities" and you see
where I am going with this.

It's getting later earlier and earlier. In the line of such films as
"The Day After Tomorrow" and "Sunrise", my movie project titled "Polar
City Red" is based on my blog and represents a major opportunity for
our team to strike gold and have an impact on society as well.

The storyline is this: in the distant future, a group of survivors of
global warming live in a polar city in the Arctic region of Earth, and
the 100 breeding pairs of males and females remain the only hope for
the continuation of the species. The movie explains how climate change
caused all this, how most of Earth's 6 billion people died in the
catastrophe of global warming, and all the things that led up this
event. However, the films is both a warming and a hopeful note that we
can survive in these polar cities of the future and that we will

I am assembling a team now. Want to join? Want to lead? Email me here.
I live in Taiwan, far from the madding crowds and the madness of
modern life.


Danny Bloom
Tufts 1971

Reed Hedges said...

I think airships are still possible. There's just no demand for them now. There may be if they can prove to be more efficient cargo vessels than jets.

Maybe a solution to the folks in Barrow Alaska is indeed domes-- but domed greenhouse gardens, not whole cities, where they can grow some stuff locally that currently has to be shipped in from afar. I know a few farms in Iceland do this, though they have geothermal heat to heat them.




At this blogsite, you can see some early artwork depicting what polar
cities might look like, interior views. Art was created by Taiwanese
artist Deng Cheng-hong, with production notes from Dan Bloom, creator
of the ''polar city blog''....


Gizmodo, a very interesting website, just did a news story on polar cities, which has started generating a lot of comment online, in blogs and in the news media. See the Gizmodo story here:



you blog was referred to here: