The progressive dilemma: seek progress and at same time democracy, hence:

Regional planning was going on, and Mumford vigorously advocated it. And since the regionally sensitive population remained to be created, planning couldn’t be, in Mumfordian terms, democratic; it could only be what it often seemed, mandarin. (69)


NRB chairman to mayor of Portland in 1933:

Planning does not, in this instance, or in general, involve changes in the existing economic system or social order.

Growth, particularly industrial growth was the goal. See also: technical heart remained but reformist soul had fled. ((67-70)


For Kipling the canneries encapsulated a basic spatial division between the mechanical and the natural. Inside, crowding, humanity, death, machines . . . Outside, solitude, nature, life, the organic, and freedom . . .

Kipling on the cannery workers:

the Chinese are ‘blood-besmeared yellow devils’; they are slaves to machines and their degradation is all the more striking because unspoiled nature lies just beyond the door. (33)

It is foolish to think that the danger and exhilaration of a man dangling from a cliff with a jackhammer somehow differs from that of rock climbers who also dangle from cliffs. We need to take the work and its intent seriously. (61) [See also about Woody Guthrie and his celebration of the work at the dams.]


Mumford espoused a common energy utopianism. He made Giant Power into a social theory. He thought that when we switch energy sources, we potentially change the possibilities of our society. (55) Mumford, in effect, explained why earlier Emersonianism had gone wrong. It had depended on the wrong energy source for its machines. (55)

What humans intended to do to the river, nature had once done. The project (Grand Coulee) therefore, depended on deciphering the ‘but little understood schemes of nature’ What nature had so artfully arranged, it would be criminal for humans to neglect to improve and finish. From the imitation of nature would come a future electrical millennium. (55-57)