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Linear City Rationale

Let us assume that present trends will continue for an undetermined amount of time. Cities, towns, and villages all over the Earth will continue to smother the life out of more and more land, each passing day, with new buildings and roads. Population increases will mean the number of cars made each year will increase to keep up with the demand. More wilderness will be destroyed to make more farms. Industrialization will increase as undeveloped countries try to emulate the high energy life styles of more mechanized countries. The air will become more polluted with carbon dioxide, particulates, and toxic gases. Competition for oil and oil products will become ever more fierce as demand increases against dwindling supplies.

What ramifications result from this kind of scenario? I think we are in the process of creating a gigantic desert out of most of the land surfaces of the Earth. A large part of the global desert will be synthetic and caused by building cities, roads and farms. The rest of the global desert will be true desert in a biological and weather sense of the word.

The Asphalt Desert is the term I use to describe the synthetic desert. The Asphalt Desert is also the machine that will cause the transformation of verdant, non desert areas into arid waste lands.

Vegetation works like a sponge that holds moisture. If we deforest, and abuse land with incorrect farming practices, this biological “sponge” decreases in volume. The moisture becomes stored in the oceans instead. This will lead to a drying of the global atmosphere that will not become obvious until the water that is created by combustion of wood, oil products, coal, and natural gas begins to decline because of depletion of these resources. When we are finally forced to use alternative energy, such as, solar, wind, and geothermal, the presence of the Asphalt Desert will begin creating the global desert by desiccating farm land, and wilderness.

If we are to reverse this process of desertification, we must shrink the surface covered by our cities and farms and rebuild our wilderness. To keep reasonable weather balance during this transformation of our systems, we should reduce the number of systems that create water by combustion at a rate commensurate with the building of biological systems that produce nearly equal amounts of water.

Imagine a typical city that is built to allow automobiles to be the most important system for connecting people with the fulfillment of their needs. Streets, freeways, alleys, service stations, parking lots, and many more kinds of structures, exist in this city, to meet the needs of automobiles.

Now imagine the same city without all the services for cars. Close the distance between buildings that used to be separated by parking lots, roads, gas stations, etc.. Wherever it is optimally humane, take advantage of vertical space by stacking living and work spaces to make multiple level buildings. Then make a long line of all the essential buildings of the city and make the line of city loop back upon itself. This kind of city I call a linear loop city.  This is also the prototypical example of a “Linear City”. 

This linear city concept is the  city form that may allow us to build future cities that conserve so much energy and resources while improving quality of life that we may start a global renaissance.

Linear City Zone Plan

Imagine a city only 4 to 5 miles wide and 30,000 to 40,000 mile long. By folding back, looping and creating extensions that terminate at extremely rugged geographical areas, the city connects with every major city, port and resource area in the continental United States.  The size of this city makes it a megalopolis and because it is like a giant network stretching across the entire continental United States, I call it a network megalopolis.

Zoning is crucial for this interstate, multi jurisdictional, city. From top to bottom in the following list are the zones that run roughly parallel to each other along the line of city. The top of the list is usually north on the map, and the bottom is usually south. A brief explanation of each zone follows.

True Wilderness

Real Wilderness is usually found in the center of very large loops of Linear City. It is a forbidden area that is as wild as nature will allow. We observe from a distance. No roads in, no attempt to alter any process going on in it.

Near Wilderness

Near Wilderness is the kind of wilderness that allows camping, hunting, fishing, recreational hiking, etc. Deep within this wilderness there are ecological villages that are very difficult to get to. These villages study wilderness ecology and work to maintain the health of the Near Wilderness. This wilderness also serves as an overflow region for animals escaping forest fires in the real wilderness. Wide firebreak pastures separate the near wilderness from the real wilderness in many places. Buffalo, antelope, and a variety of other wild animals roam in prairie meadow pastures.

Permaculture Farms

These farms extend roughly 30 to 50 miles from the edge of the Near Wilderness to the city. To the trained eye, they appear to get more and more wild the farther from the city you go. There is a network of paths throughout the farms that facilitate harvesting and maintaining the trees, shrubs and bushes comprising the farming area.

Small Family Farms

These are farms that grow wind and insect pollinated crops such as corn, alfalfa, and wheat. Crops that are not suitable for growing in the commercial high rise greenhouses are grown here. Pasture for milk cows and other animals is also grown.

Heavy Duty Freight Trains

These trains move the big stuff and stop at the factories in the heavy industry zone. Because of the way the economy works, they exist on their own track and move back and forth between destinations. This influences the efficient sequencing of factories served by these trains.

Heavy Industry

Factories, hospitals, prisons, and similar services are located here. Mostly businesses that need the service of the heavy duty freight trains and the heavy duty service vehicle road are located here.

Heavy Duty Service Vehicle Road

This road evolves from parts of the interstate highway system that are appropriate for the path of Linear City. It is intended to back up the heavy duty freight train system during the construction of the city and eventually also serve as the high speed super bus road.

Shuttle Trains and Exchangeways

Shuttle trains exist on their own track and move back and forth between their terminals. There may be a mix of modern conventional train technologies ranging from various types of light rail to the French TGV, German ICE, Swedish Acela, TransRapid Shanghai maglev. etc..

The trains work on the binary principle which means slow trains have their lines of track, faster trains have theirs. There may be as many as five or six lines of track running parallel to each other depending on city population, density, and need.

Eventually, maglev’s replace many of the wheel trains in the shuttle train zone. Perhaps, the growth of linear cities will occur at a rate that makes it possible to build the entire shuttle train system using only maglev trains.

Light Industry

Universities, sports complexes, service buildings for park loop buses, light manufacturing, exchangeways, hotels, etc. are located in this zone. Transit for the light industry zone is provided by the shuttle trains on one side and the park loop roads on the other.

Park Loop Roads

Buses, police cars, ambulances, and service vehicles use the park loop roads. Imagine a 30,000 mile long Central Park (New York city) that has a chain of loop roads providing access to the light industry zone on one side of the park and the housing zone on the other side. Traffic moves one way instead of bidirectionally on the loop roads. This makes traffic lights unnecessary for most of the park loop roads.

Park Zone

This zone separates the housing zone from the light industry zone. It contains schools, amphitheaters, many kinds of recreation, and bicycle paths that encourage bicycle transit from the housing zone to the light industry zone. This zone varies in width along its 30,000 to 40,000 mile length and is about a mile wide.

Housing Zone

As in most of the zones, the housing zone is mixed use. Most people live in the housing zone and buildings have an average height of about 5 or 6 stories. Where practical, some housing may be skyscrapers. This zone starts as tower towns spaced apart from each other with leap frog development. Gradually. the space between the tower towns becomes filled with mixed use housing as the city continues to grow.

Service Vehicle Road

This road exists between the housing zone and commercial greenhouse zone. Moving vans, rental cars, service vehicles, farm trucks etc. use this road. Bidirectional traffic is separated by medians. Turnouts allow vehicles to park at their destination without interfering with regular traffic. Electronic speed zones automatically restrict vehicle speeds using cruise control technologies. Most of the vehicles using this road are hybrid electric, pure electric, or biodiesel.

Many multipurpose bridges connect across this road and provide a means to avoid having to bury water and power lines under the roads. Basketball courts, greenhouses, restaurants, swimming pools, and many other possibilities make these structures much more valuable to the city than merely being a bridge.

Commercial Greenhouse Zone

Low rise, mid rise, and high rise platform greenhouses are found in this zone. These buildings use waste heat from electric power generation to stay warm enough in winter months to allow 12 month growing seasons on all levels. A combination of natural and artificial light assures plants grow quickly.

Cloche fields, underground greenhouses, espalier walls, bramble bush fences, and sunken gardens are also part of this zone. Food, herbs and medicines are grown in the great variety of micro-climates provided by these sheltering systems.

Aquaculture Zone

This zone usually exists close to the commercial greenhouse zone so it can accept cascaded warm water. Fishing, research ponds, water transport systems, and fish farming would be found in this zone.

The following zones are similar to those found on the other side of the city.

Small Family Farms

Permaculture Farms

Near Wilderness

True Wilderness

Along with linear cities there are various other types of human habitats that can help us reduce the damage we do to the natural world per capita.

  1. 1.Floating cities

  2. 2.Underground cities

  3. 3.Orbiting Earth space cities

  4. 4.Arcologies

Although not cities because of their size, the following are very important to the function of linear cities:

  1. 1.Ecological villages

  2. 2.Permaculture villages

  3. 3.Field crop towns

  4. 4.Floating “ship” cities

We may be seeing ever more need for disaster relief for large populations in the future.  Many people have been made suddenly homeless by natural disasters and human caused problems.  Tower Towns can be a way of helping people made homeless have a place to live.


Welcome to Imagine City               Audio Topics                  Global Renaissance

Moving Fast          Empower City            Renewable Cities            Connect City

Human Scale Cities        Super City       Tower Towns       Design Considerations

Restructuring for Activists        Sustainability Indicators         Subsidy by Design

Linear City Concepts                Network Megalopolis               Urban Agriculture


High Rise Greenhouses                Magnetic Levitation Trains              City Links

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