Retrofuturist Flashback: Weather-Controlled Cities


New York doesn't need sunlight anyway. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Here's a fantastic slice of retrofuturism for you: a 1949 vision of a weather-controlled city by British inventor Archibald Montgomery Low (1888-1956). We mostly remember him for his work on radio guidance systems, but he was also a great futurist.

According to the Smithsonian, Low saw this as the perfect means to keep New York City habitable. Let's read the original image caption:

Using the famous New York Skyline as a "model", this is an artist's conception of the weather-controlled cities of the future, as envisioned by Professor A.M. Low, famed British scientist and inventor. The Professor suggests "roofs" like the one depicted above may be constructed over cities and linked to sky scrapers to provide scientific control of weather on a year-round basis.

If we look closer, we see people inside the great roof "busy controlling temperature, etc." Those are Low's own words, as referenced in the Smithsonian piece. I get the idea he hadn't worked out all the details yet. Let's look closer:

Control that weather, men!
© Bettmann/CORBIS

Man, there sure is a lot of junk in there...


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.