large city fountain surrounded by people

Lewis Mumford on the City 6: The City and the Future

This short documentary film is the sixth and final installment of a series hosted by Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist, philosopher, and literary critic, whose studies in the 20th century included attention to cities and architecture that persists in influence into the present day.

  • English
  • 29 Mins
  • Published
    1963
AICP CM

This short documentary film is the sixth and final installment of a series hosted by Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist, philosopher, and literary critic, whose studies in the 20th century included attention to cities and architecture that persists in influence into the present day.

In this sixth episode, "The City and the Future," Mumford begins by sounding alarms about the fading vitality of cities, caused by the processes of deurbanization, flight, and commercialization of cities underway at the time of this film's production. Mumford pins the blame for these losses on forces like congestion and density in the urban core, and technologies like the automobile with has spread humanity "at random over the landscape." A blank version of the city is left, according to Mumford, but so too are the seeds of a new kind of city, a regional city.

As an antidote to the "urban explosion," Mumford prescribes design principles that sound a lot like the principles of the New Urbanist movement of our contemporary times—building at less than high-rise scale, deemphasizing the automobile, and designing for a balance between the natural and built environments. Perhaps surprisingly, Mumford ends the series by describing the highest purpose of cities as a stage for creating and sustaining love.

AICP CM

This course is approved for 0.5 AICP CM Credit.