City Idea Is 31 Years Old
By Si Cornell, The Post & Times Star, July 14, 1967
rville Simpson II dreamed up a city with one foundation, one roof: Just one big building for hordes of people. A human anthill 102 stories high. The federal government is thinking about building such a place, and has college professors working on it. But Orville is way ahead of everybody.
"I had the idea 31 years ago," said Orville. "I've been drawing plans for 10 years."
Orville is 44, a bachelor and a teetotaler. He has held such jobs as insurance claim adjuster, foundry timekeeper, warehouse laborer, waterworks radio operator, fire alarm salesman, cloth cutter, supermarket manager trainee, and Fuller Brush man. Now he lives in Madisonville and manages two apartment houses, which he owns.
"I was 13 and in a boarding school's infirmary when I had the idea for the city of the future," said Orville. "As I remember, I think I had broken out in a rash."
This was when federal housing projects just were starting, and the boy confined to bed thought about them and decided "they're a wasteful way to correct a bad situation." A one-building city which couldn't deteriorate into a slum popped into his head.
"I called it Victory City the opposite of civilization's defeat," he said.
Orville is from a prominent industrial family, and has studied such things as business law, economics and real estate appraising. He has had no formal training as an architect or engineer. But that didn't stop him.
"I designed my city 102 stories high," he said. "That's what the Empire State Building is, and we've proved we can build one that high."
The government's professors (at University of Minnesota) are tinkering with a one-building experimental town which will be built "100 miles from nowhere" and contain 250,000 people. Planning will cost $248,000. Idea is the nation needs urban dispersal (three million new people must be housed each year) more than urban renewal.
"The government figures such a town probably would create no serious pollution problems," said Orville. "My town also would eliminate ugliness, noise and congestion. I've spent about $200 planning."
Orville's Victory City for 250,000 would be only a few city blocks long and wide. If for two million, it would be four by three miles, always figuring such a city at 102 stories.
It would do away with firemen (absolutely fireproof), overcoats, pneumonia, snow shovels, stop signs, traffic lights, and even money. Your pay would be added to your bank account, and any purchases would be deducted. IBM already can fix that machinery.
"Take the bathrooms," said Orville. "All stainless steel, and on rollers so you could rearrange your apartment within reason depending on the number of connecting outlets.
"If you want to scrub the bathroom, just close the door, and set the dials that will be outside. First, hot water would spray the entire room from a ceiling fixture. Next, hot water mixed with detergent would wash it. Third, there would be a hot-water rinse. This would be so hot the room automatically dried as the steam escaped from the vent."
Orville envisions lots more 3000 elevators for about every 60,000 people, little electric cars like Coney's Dodgems to run around the halls, a single cafeteria with everything from Greasy Spoon to Gourmet Room tastes, free parking, windows that can't be fallen out of, and kennels for pets.
"Cheap? Sure, that's the whole idea," he said. "I have checked with responsible real estate people and I believe an apartment with five bedrooms and four baths could be rented for about $160. There even could be very inexpensive wards for elderly men and women."
Is man finally getting as smart as the ant? "Something like that," grinned Orville, who is willing to give the government his ideas for free.
"Every time something new is created to solve old problems, there always are new problems created," conceded Orville.
Sure. Wait until a smart-alecky kid locks his mother in a bathroom like that and turns those hot-water dials.
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