1944: Model City

LA

The decorative industrial management buildings and exhibition centers in authoritarian countries are much the same as anywhere else. The huge gleaming towers that shoot up everywhere are outward signs of the ingenious planning of international concerns, toward which the unleashed entrepreneurial system (whose monuments are a mass of gloomy houses and business premises in grimy, spiritless cities) was already hastening. Even now the older houses just outside the concrete city centres look like slums, and the new bungalows on the outskirts are at one with the flimsy structures of world fairs in their praise of technical progress and their built-in demand to be discarded after a short while like empty food cans. Yet the city housing projects designed to perpetuate the individual as a supposedly independent unit in a small hygienic dwelling make him all the more subservient to his adversarythe absolute power of capitalism.

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer: “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” from Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944)

City_Model_MC_RyanMiller_CaptureImaging

Above: A worker places a miniature City Hall into a scale model of Los Angeles made as a Works Progress Administration project from 1939 to 1940.

Left: The model is still on display at Los Angeles County’s Natural History Museum.

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