“We Have To Rebuild Cities With The Same Conceptual Flair That The Great Malls Have”

In a 1996 Playboy interview, longtime Angeleno Ray Bradbury provided his predictably sci-fi vision for the future of urban life, in the wake of the Rodney King trial and the subsequent riots. Seemingly unaware that crime had begun to decrease precipitously in American cities (for reasons still impossible to pin down), he shared an awful solution for supposedly unmanageable metropolises. An excerpt:


If Los Angeles is an indicator for the nation, what is the future of other big cities?

Ray Bradbury:

Along with man’s return to the moon, my biggest hope is that L.A. will show the way for all of our cities to rebuild, because they’ve gone to hell and the crime rate has soared. When we can repopulate them, the crime rate will plunge.


What will help?

Ray Bradbury

We need enlightened corporations to do it; they’re the only ones who can. All the great malls have been built by corporate enterprises. We have to rebuild cities with the same conceptual flair that the great malls have. We can turn any bad section of town into a vibrant new community.


How do you convince corporate leaders and bureaucrats that you have the right approach?

Ray Bradbury: 

They listen because they know my track record. The center of downtown San Diego was nonexistent until a concept of mine, the Horton Plaza, was built right in the middle of bleakest skid row. Civilization returned to San Diego upon its completion. It became the center of a thriving community. And the Glendale Galleria, based on my concept, changed downtown Glendale when it was built nearly 25 years ago. So if I live another ten years – please, God! – I’ll be around to witness a lot of this in Los Angeles and inspire the same thing in big cities throughout the country.•