1930s imagining of 1980s New York in the sci-fi musical Just Imagine (1930, dir. David Butler) (via)
Designed by art director Stephen Goosson, the city set was an elaborate miniature model that covered a ground area of 75 x 225 feet and whose tallest tower measured 40 feet.
Just Imagine’s New York was primarily inspired by architect Harvey Corbett’s prediction that 1970’s New York would resemble a “very modernized Venice” and by the futuristic urban designs presented in Hugh Ferriss’s 1929 book, The Metropolis of Tomorrow.
Ferriss’s drawings of the ”business center of the future” (pictures #3-5) provided the most direct inspiration for Goosson’s sets. Broad superhighways establish a geometric ground plan that extends upward through overlapping levels of bridges, streets, and terraced walkways. The grid of streets and bridges is pierced by huge freestanding skyscrapers surrounded by lower setback buildings, a design Ferriss created as an analogy to the natural world of “towering mountain peaks… surrounded by foothills”
The opening scenes of the (otherwise mediocre) film, which feature this cityscape, can be seen here.
More on the building of the Just Imagine set. Collection of Hugh Ferriss’s futuristic city sketches here.