Norman Bel Geddes Database
Job 356, Shell Oil Advertising Campaign, 1932?-1938
Summary: With Shell Oil’s “City of Tomorrow,” Bel Geddes became an urban visionary, focusing on decentralization as key to the improved city. Represented by a massive model and dramatically photographed for magazine publication, Geddes’s vision for the future city featured overpasses with ramps that permitted drivers to change direction without crossing traffic; the segregation of residential from business and industrial areas by green space; and routing of through-traffic around the city center. Geddes forecast what we now recognize as global positioning systems (GPSs) with “automatic in-car traffic control,” directed in part by television feeds of local traffic conditions. Although Shell’s “City of Tomorrow” was born as an advertising campaign by J. Walter Thompson (see job 133), it addressed serious issues of contemporary urbanism.