Back in 1962, former Mayor Robert Wagner had a vision for New York’s future. He wrote about it in the New York Times Magazine in October of 1962. He made predictions for what the city would be like 50 years into the future – in 2012. My, how time flies when you’re having fun in Fun City! Oh, that was a different mayor.
The DailyMail.co.uk brings us this look back in time. Here are some of the highlights…
Rocket-powered cars, monorail and affordable apartments: New York of 2012… predicted by the city’s mayor 50 years ago
- As well as super-fast transport, Mayor Robert F Wagner believed era would see end to racial and social division
- Predicted most people would own their homes and all residents would get free university education
- Believed skyscrapers would soar ever upward with public parks in the air
Yet many of his words also contain more than a grain of truth of the modern reality and some predictions are surprisingly prescient.
‘Starting from this point, we may safely say that in 2012 New York City will be a city where all races and nations meet and mingle – a city of many cultures, each of which will be respected and prized,’ he wrote 29 years before his death in 1991.
‘As for slums, they will be just a memory of a rot that afflicted the city long ago.Optimist: Robert F Wagner Jr served as New York City mayor between 1954 and 1965. He died in 1991
‘We may fervently hope that racial discrimination will be ply a legend, referred to as an illustrations of a past shame and injustice based on widespread public ignorance and prejudice.
There will be a series of cultural enclaves, but no racial, national, or even economic segregation.
‘There will still be a Harlem, a Yorkville, a Chelsea, a Riverdale, a Williamsburg, a Lower East Side, a Greenwich Village – but they will be open neighbourhoods of people who will live there and not because there is no place else for them to live.’
This prediction, although wildly optimistic, was at least correct to assume racially segregation in these neighbourhoods would no longer be quite so racially segregated.
The Lower East side has perhaps changed the most – from a packed ghetto for Jewish and eastern European families to a bohemian centre favoured by young professionals.
And he was not wrong when he wrote that ‘the charm and character of neighbourhoods will be foremost among the values to be preserved.
‘The emphasis will be on “difference” rather than conformity.’
Although economic division remains rife and nowhere better illustrates this than the housing market, where many residents who characterised neighbourhoods have been priced out.
In 1962, Mr Wagner predicted: ‘Many if not most apartments will be owned by the people living in them.
‘Rental housing will be generally for the very young, for newcomers and for transients.
‘To a greater and greater extent, housing will be built to promote the values of individual, family and community life rather than laid out with the sole object of renting or selling to a particular economic group or class.’
The former mayor also believed that free facilities such as schools and museums would ‘have so multiplied that the most concentrated community in the world may also be the most cultured, the most creative, and the most varied – a free and open community of free minds and free spirits.