Hugh Ferriss: Delineator of a Dieselpunk World


A first impression of the contemporary city, let us say, the view of New York from the work-room in which most of these drawings were made. This, indeed, is to the author the familiar morning scene. But there are occasional mornings when, with an early fog not yet dispersed, one finds oneself, on stepping onto the parapet, the spectator of an even more nebulous panorama. Literally, there is nothing to be seen but mist; not a tower has yet been revealed below, and except for the immediate parapet rail (dark and wet as an ocean liner’s) there is not a suggestion of either locality or solidity for the coming scene. To an imaginative spectator, it might seem that he is perched in some elevated stage box to witness some gigantic spectacle, some cyclopean drama of forms; and that the curtain has not yet risen.

There is a moment of curiosity, even for those who have seen the play before. since in all probability they are about to view some newly arisen steel skeleton, some tower or even some street which was not in yesterday’s performance. And to one who had not been in the audience before—to some visitor from another land or another age — there could not fail to be at least a moment of wonder. What apocalypse is about to be revealed? What is its setting? And what will be the purport of this modern metropolitan drama?

From Hugh Ferriss, The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929)


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