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  1. #1

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    Disneylands "Progress City": A Walt Original?

    I was reading the February 2008 National Geographic yesterday, and came across an interesting article about a small farming community in northern Israel called "Nahalal".

    Originally conceived and built by pioneer Jews in the early 1920's while still considered Palestine, this community was devised by architect Richard Kauffmann. It is based on concentric circles, with the public buildings (school, administrative and cultural offices, cooperative shops and warehouses) in the center, the homesteads in the innermost circle, the farm buildings in the next, and beyond those, ever-widening circles of gardens and fields.

    Fast forward 45 years to Disneyland USA: The 1964 Worlds Fair in New York is winding down and Walt Disney is making preperation to move his attractions from New York to California to be installed at Disneyland.

    He decides to have a huge model built of his "Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow" or EPCOT, which will reside on the second floor of the soon-to-be-installed Carousel of Progess.

    Walt passes away before the moving project is completed and since nobody in WED knew yet whether EPCOT would ever be built or not, they decide to go ahead and finish the model, but opt to call it "Progress City".

    Notice the similarities between Nahala and Progress City...





    I was never aware that a community existed anywhere that so closely mirrored Walts idea for EPCOT. Which got me to wondering if Walt actually thought up the idea itself, or simpy discovered Nahalal and made the idea his own.

    Regardless, one thing that did come out of actually building Nahalal that has never been discussed in the many Disney publications that I've read over the years, but was pointed out in the National Geographic article: Nahalal has "one structural kink in this design. Growth is limited. Once a rigid circle is drawn, there's little room to go forth and multiply."
    Charlie
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  2. #2

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    Re: Disneylands "Progress City": A Walt Original?

    Interesting. I never thought of EPCOT as a Walt original, mostly because most of the biographies I have read tell that Walt spent a lot of time reading books on urban planning and design towards the end of his life. Also, on the EPCOT video where he introduced the idea, I thought I remembered him saying something like, "after looking a various ideas, we believe the wheel design is the best..." or some such thing.

  3. #3

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    Re: Disneylands "Progress City": A Walt Original?

    Cool post, Charlie. The radial design for city planning is nothing new, but to see such a faithful concept actually constructed is unique. In the mid-1400s (into the 16th century) this radial design was adopted from earlier forms and championed by many Italian Renaissance artists and architects, initially by Filarete, but later by DaVinci and most fervently by Peruzzi. Since then, however, the radial design (in a pure form) has been seen by many as unecessarily constrictive. A 'checkerboard' pattern soon became a more popular choice for city planners, though we can still see elements of radial design in many 'comtemporary' cities--even our Nation's capital. Good thread!
    Last edited by fo'c's'le swab; 03-27-2008 at 08:56 AM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Disneylands "Progress City": A Walt Original?

    Walt also 'plussed' the concept with his ideas about the community's transportation via Monorail, the WEDway People Mover and underground highways.

  5. #5

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    Re: Disneylands "Progress City": A Walt Original?

    There are actually quite a few similarities between Progress City and EPCOT and the ideal visions of urban planners and architects. A lot of this is explored in Walt Disney and the Quest for Community by Steve Mannheim.

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