8) The Corridor – Page 49
Here is one argument: cities are grown, not built. The great metropolises of ancient and modern day were not deliberate or rationalized; they existed as confluences of human requirement. Settlements near rivers had fresh drinking water and nutrient flooded fields, not to mention mercantile influence. A town situated on a hill commanded the countryside, atop desert tablelands or inside a star fort nestled amongst intruding forest. “Planned” cities, from Brasilia to Fordlandia were not living entities, they were monuments of hubris. But hubris doesn’t deny success: Fordlandia is buried in acres of jungle, while Brasilia is the fourth most populous city in Brasil, and by all accounts a lovely place to visit.
The roots of New Atlantis lie in the 40 mile corridor that separates Washington, DC from Baltimore, MD. The term corridor is fairly accurate. In the 2030s, the suburban towns housing workers from both cities were split by the asphalt ribbon of I-95 and an oft-delayed maglev high-speed rail line. That maglev line shuttled more commuters than all the local rail lines combined. DC had its Metro and Baltimore had its Light Rail; in-between, there was nothing to stop for but an airport and Fort Meade.
D. Anders had chosen the corridor for the single, massive replication factory producing VIG devices. The land had been expensive. As the complexity and scale of operations grew, consolidation of raw resources and expansion of distribution became tantamount. The factory land was fully built-up, and the act of acquiring additional space was cost-prohibitive. A logical choice would have been to relocate. Instead, Anders decided to build up.
Vertical building regulations are uncertain, political things. From the roof deck of the gorgeous 14-story Cairo apartment building in DC, one can see the effect of the 1899 Heights of Building Act, born of the Cairo’s offensive construction: a panorama of sunlight spilling onto Beaux-Arts monuments. That piece of paper did as much as L’Enfant’s blueprints to say that Washington is not Chicago or New York; to say not in my sunshine. One-third of a mile across the Potomac’s slurry, Rosslyn did not give a damn about sunshine. It was half a city: just the skyscrapers, to hell with everything else. Without the burden of height restrictions, it grew capitally, supplying demand. In the unincorporated tracts northeast of the Beltway, commute times may have prevented the same population density, but definitely not height regulations. In 2040, Anders paid out of pocket to connect his ever-spiraling center to the high-speed train line; the VIG / Powder Heights station opened two years later, transporting thousands of workers daily.
By 2047, the VIG factory was a semi-legal vertical sprawl; dozens of Frankreich bridges superimposed onto warehouse floors, cloaked in glass. Existing supports had been retrofitted, replaced by gravplates designed to bear their structural weight in far less space. Flying transports and floating airwalks snaked everywhere, connecting the compound into a dense hive.
Another argument: no natural resources. Boom towns blow up, and sometimes their carcasses stick around when the silver veins ran dry or salt is taxed too heavily. Those that do stick tend to find another resource to exploit. What does a flying city have?
In Wyoming, it is still the rushing 1870s as far as minerals are concerned; if you can find them and claim them on the 34% of the surface geography that remains public land — a percentage second