University of Texas at Austin

Geddes working on the Shell Oil City of Tomorrow model
Ca. 1937
Gelatin silver print

Close Window

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.

(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
box 18 356.1 Agreements Sept1936-Apr1937. Memos re bill settlement; memos, correspondence re viewing model.
box 18 356.2 Meeting minutes Nov-Dec1936.
box 18 356.3 Memos --- Prophecies by NBG; Headings & Details; Headlines for illustrations; Model requirements, descriptions, analysis.
box 18 356.4 5 Sketches & diagrams.
flat file 356.1 1 Drawing.
box 18 356.5 Photograph Record Copy Book.
photo box 7a 356.1 50 Record photographs of model making and model, mounted with labels and captions.
photo box 7a 356.2 69 Photographs of model making and model.
photo box 8 356.3 69 Photographs of model making and model (continued)
photo box 8 356.4 Publicity photographs --- Traffic and Shell ad copy.
damaged flat files, drawer 4 356.1 5 Drawings model plans. 14 Sketches.
flat file 356.2 7 Photographs of model.
flat box 9 356.1 31 Photographs of model.
flat box 10 356.2 31 Photographs of model (continued).
flat box 11 356.3 31 Photographs of model (continued).
negative box 5 356.1-4 34 Negatives (33 damaged).
negative box 6 356.5-6 34 Negatives (continued).
box 18 356.6 Publicity --- Publicity Writing 1937.
damaged flat box 8 356.1 Publicity --- Advertising sketches, memos, clippings.
damaged flat files, drawer 20 356.2 Publicity --- Mounted advertisement.
box 18a 356.7 Publicity --- "The City of Tomorrow Press Clippings" for Shell Oil Advertising Campaign, 1937.
box 18a 356.8-9 Publicity --- Clippings, 1937-1938 (continued).
oversize box 7 356.1 Publicity --- Clippings 1937. Research clippings 1932?
box 18a 356.10 Research --- Pamphlet "Unfit for Modern Motor Traffic" 1936.