Progress City was truly a model city. This miniature city was built at a scale of 1/8-inch equal to 1-foot. It represented a 3-dimensional vision of Epcot, Walt Disney’s vision of a model city of the future where “people could live a life that they couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.”
The model city was very well planned and beautifully landscaped with 20,000 trees and shrubs. Every one of the 4,500 buildings was carefully positioned and sized for a specific purpose. Roads were laid out to create a logical traffic pattern, and lighted by 1,400 streetlights. There were 7 types of transportation, including rapid transit monorails, electric trains, the WEDway PeopleMover, automotive, transporters (electric carts), moving sidewalks, and of course jets, for the jet airport. In all Progress City had 2,450 vehicles actually moving.
I’ve done a great deal of research on this model city (miniature) and Walt’s ultimate dream for Epcot as a city. The designs are actually quite practical in terms of brick and mortar. But without Walt, the company lacked the vision necessary to operate and manage such an innovative city. In a shortsighted way, they couldn’t figure out how to make a city turn a profit.
In 1965, the US population was 194.3 million. By 2007, it had increased to 300 million. In 40 years, more than 100 million Americans were looking for a new place to live. Imagine what the profits could be like if, instead of franchising theme parks around the world, the company was franchising cities.
This SketchUp drawing indicates several points of interest for the downtown area. The city center was supposed to be a huge indoor mall. It would have covered nearly 2 million square feet, and just over 45 acres. Excluding the transportation hub and circulation it might have had as much as 1 million square feet of retail space. Indoor malls were a very new concept in 1966, but in the years since they have sprung up all over the country at a great profit to the operators. In fact, the Orange County, California, South Coast Plaza generated more revenue in the mid 70s than Disneyland.
P.S. This is post 100, and the cause for some minor celebration. Hooray!