Nothing says 'Utopia' like a Monorail: Wuppertal in 2121.
THE ECOTOPIA 2121 PROJECT DESIGNS THE FUTURES OF CITIES WORLWIDE SO THEY TRANSFORM INTO SUPER-GREEN UTOPIAS. HERE, NOW, WE FOCUS ON THE GERMAN CITY OF WUPPERTAL.
Wuppertal was one of the pioneering cities of industrialism in 19th century Germany. It has three particularly number of famous products from this period:
No 1 - aspirin,
No 2 - the socialist theorist Frederich Engels, and
No 3 - the world’s longest functioning monorail (see below).
This disparate collection comes together in the rise of Wuppertal 2121.
When the private company that owns it announces the imminent closure of the aging monorail -- planning to build parking lots in its place -- many Wuppertal commuters grow very angry. The people of Wuppertal love their old monorail, saying it’s an emblem of the city, that they can enjoy a fine, sunlit view of their environs when traveling, and that its use keeps automobile traffic in the streets to a minimum.
However, the company says the monorail is just not economical. So the citizens who support the monorail come together as a group, campaigning to “socialize” the monorail, dredging up a few of Engels’s old pamphlets as a guide. Eventually, a deal is struck between the local council and monorail activists in which the council agrees to buy the monorail and all its assets if the monorail activists can get the money to pay for its upkeep and operation.
Within days, ten-year subscription plans are put on sale and snapped up by eager commuters, who can travel for free for that length of time. It is such a successful endeavor that almost every citizen ends up with some kind of subscription. In fact, Wuppertal goes on to build more and more monorails of various styles all around the city. With so much commuting going on ten, twenty, fifty feet above street level, there’s less desire for ground transport and more space opens up all around the city.
Another feature popular with the locals is the construction of irregularly shaped buildings, circular buildings being the most common. These odd-shaped buildings allow for more open space in the city, since they leave small pockets of land that, due to their irregular dimensions, are completely unsuitable for private development save for small urban gardens or quaint microbusinesses; mini-cafes, floral vendors, water fountains and the like.
And what about the other signature product from Wuppertal, namely aspirin? Well, some overenthusiastic commuters sometimes need it for vertigo.
Beatley, T. Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1999.
Engels, F. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. 1880.
Groneck, C., and P. Lohkemper. Urban Transport in Germany Pt. 9: The Wuppertal Suspension Railway. Berlin: Robert Schwandl Verlag, 2007.
Marshall, A. Ecotopia 2121: A Vision of Our Future Green Utopia, Skyhorse Publ., NY., 2016.
Pederson, C. Monorails: Trains of the Future Now Arriving. Monorail Society, 2015.