The Best Man Can Get
February 1, 2019 9:00 AM   Subscribe

“Under a perfect economical system of production and distribution, and a system combining the greatest elements of progress, there can be only one city on a continent, and possibly only one in the world.” Before perfecting his invention of the safety razor and founding what became a major American industrial and sales enterprise, King Camp Gillette (1855-1932) authored several books and pamphlets calling for radical changes in the country's economic and social system. The first of these polemical tracts, The Human Drift, called for the establishment of an ideal society to be created by The United Company "Organized for the purpose of Producing, Manufacturing, and Distributing the Necessities of Life." Except for agricultural and other rural pursuits, all activities and all the population would be concentrated in one gigantic urban complex that Gillette called "Metropolis."
posted by The Whelk (13 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

ca 1900 luxury space communism?

I can see the connection to the original "Metropolis" film. I like that he also takes pains to point out that all the buildings can and should be individualized.
posted by eviemath at 9:24 AM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Say what you want about people from the late 19th century, they certainly did not lack for ambition.

And then we had the Great War, and the age of cynicism began.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:45 AM on February 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

One vast and ecumenical holding company...
posted by books for weapons at 10:01 AM on February 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Metropolis plan (city of 60 million people at Niagra falls) makes perfect sense given what the author knew and did not know in 1894: knowing electric power would be vital in the future but not knowing about high-efficiency long distance power transmission.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:41 AM on February 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Viewed from a certain perspective, this could be the secret origin of Mega-City One.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:02 PM on February 1, 2019

I think Geoffrey West's work on the (economic) advantages of bigger cities leads to the same conclusion, sort of. That is, there's nothing in their analysis suggesting an upper limit on more-advantageous city size, but somewhere he remarks that there will surely be exogenous limits, like the cities being awful to live in.
posted by clew at 12:23 PM on February 1, 2019

He later revised his position to say "two cities", then "two cities and a lubricating strip", then "three cities and two lubricating strips", then "four cities and two lubricating strips", then "five cities and two lubricating strips", then "five cities, two lubricating strips and vibration".
posted by srboisvert at 12:59 PM on February 1, 2019 [28 favorites]

I always forget that they had cocaine back then.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:42 PM on February 1, 2019 [11 favorites]

... then "five cities, two lubricating strips and vibration".

something something Occam's Razor
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:35 PM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

But see, the thing is, the mediator between the head and the hands... MUST be the heart!
posted by hippybear at 8:11 PM on February 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I’m just here to congratulate you on the post title
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:31 AM on February 2, 2019

My favourite thing about this is that fucking everything is covered in porcelain. Floor to ceiling! Every colour and pattern conceivable! Porcelain porcelain porcelain! In the cars! In the food packages! Did you see the note about how great the porcelain's gonna be? Porcelain!

Dude really liked his porcelain.
posted by lucidium at 1:50 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

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