Saturday, May 5, 2018

Fantastic Cities

The Ideal City by an unknown Renaissance artist, probably Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

St. Anthony before a City by Albrecht Durer.

Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Consummation, 1835-1836

Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1835-1836

Erastus Salisbury Field, Historical Monument of the American Republic, 1867–1888

Metropolis, 1927.

Hugh Ferriss, "The Science Center" from The Metropolis of Tomorrow, 1929. More here.

Géza Maróti, Study for Atlantis, 1933.

From the original Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, 1982.

Harkonnen Palace on Giedi Prime, from Dune, the David Lynch film of 1984.

Bartertown from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, 1985.

Dinotopia by James Gurney, 1992

Gérard Trignac, illustration for an edition of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities produced in 1993.

Diagon Alley from Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone, 2001

Minas Tirith, as imagined by Alan Lee

and as it appeared in Peter Jackson's film, 2001.

Coruscant, from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Shaun Tan, The Arrival, 2006.

Other suggestions? I have the feeling I'm missing something famous.


pootrsox said...

I'd add some images of Cyrodil from the Elder Scrolls franchise :)

Mário M. Gonçalves said...

Fantastic post ! I really loved the collection. Blade Runner and Calvino's Cities are my favorite, maybe you could add 'Blade Runner 2049' which also has amazing urban landscapes.

You probably know the genial 'Rendezvous with Rama', by Arthur C Clark, one of the best ever imaginary cities. You have a fine image here:

Thank you !

G. Verloren said...

If we're talking somewhat more famous examples, there are several cities that originate from comics that could be argued for.

Gotham City and Metropolis are both fairly well known, albeit based on real world cities. Mega-City One from the Judge Dredd comics and films is fairly iconic while being more original. The Ghost In The Shell series, particularly the original film, has the intensely memorable New Tokyo, built after the original city was mostly destroyed in a nuclear exchange with the ruins submerged beneath the risen sea level.

Speaking of ruined versions of real world cities, there's a number of classic dystopian examples. There are the titular cities of Escape From New York and Escape From LA, the blighted Detroit of Robocop, the ruined Bakersfield of The Running Man, et cetera.

It's not all doom and gloom, of course. There's the nearly unrecognizeable, yet oddly bright and upbeat "New York City" of The Fifth Element, reimagined for the year 2263 through the extravagant lens of French futurism. There's the three different eras of Hill Valley in Back To The Future, giving us a rare glimpse of how a fictional city changes over the decades and even centuries. There's the bizarre near-future mashup city of "San Fransokyo" in Big Hero 6. Or perhaps more famously, there's the distant future vision of San Fran itself given to us by the Star Trek franchise.

Speaking of Star Trek, if we choose to be a bit broad with out categorization of a city, there are various space stations and starships in popular culture that likely qualify given their size and number of residents.

The Star Trek franchise itself has several examples - the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) hosts over a thousand residents; the space station Deep Space Nine has roughly twice that, with capacity for up to seven thousand; and there are over a dozen named major orbital starbases and shipyards in the Federation, all large enough to build and service multiple massive starships at once, and all requiring sizeable permanent populations.

In Battlestar Galactica, the titular ship houses most of the last remnants of humanity, numbering in the tens of thousands of people. The titular space station in Babylon 5 was eight kilometers long and had a maximum capacity of 250,000 people. The original Death Star of Star Wars fame had well over a million occupants, giving Luke Skywalker something of a terrifying confirmed kill count. And of course, Star Wars also plays host to a mining station that is actually confirmed within the universe to be a city - the enigmatic Cloud City.

Narrowing back in on more traditional cities, and particularly the famous ones, we have The Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz, Springfield from The Simpsons, Bedrock from The Flintstones, Mos Eisley in Star Wars, Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit; El Dorado of Spanish legend; the titular South Park; the titular Twin Peaks; a bunch of cities from The Lord of The Rings including The Lonely Mountain, Rivendell, Laketown, Mordor, et cetera; et cetera.

G. Verloren said...


If we want to delve into video games and the like, there are a lot of great rather interesting cities to consider - although, they will by necessity be less well known to the general population.

That said, I'd absolutely second the Imperial City of Cyrodiil, and also make particular mention of Sigil from The Forgotten Realms in Dungeons & Dragons. The rest are probably too numerous to get into here, given their relative obscurity to the average person.

John said...

I spent hundreds of hours in Cyrodiil but it never really impressed me as a very cool-looking city. My sons suggested the final city from Final Fantasy XV and Anor Londo from Dark Souls, but the images I found of those didn't wow me.

The Emerald City also doesn't really do it for me.

I was actually trying to remember the name of the Fifth Element -- I remember finding that city very cool, so now I will look it up.

Space ships and space stations will have to be another post.

As will recreations of ancient Rome, of which there are many very cool ones.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Tower of Babel by Breugel? N13