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Thread: Planning on Mars

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Planning on Mars

    I watched Life of Mars last night. For those who didn't see it, it's about a cop in 2008 who gets transported back to 1973. An underlying theme to the show is how he adjust to not having the same tools-cell phones, etc- that he had in 2008 to do his job. That got me thinking- how would being transported back to 1973 affect our ability as planners to do our jobs. My initial thought was that GIS would be gone. We would have to go back to hand-drawn maps. So what does the throbbing brain think?
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Diazaloid (ammonia-based) prints, mmmm.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Well, I wouldn't have so many damn emails and voicemails, for one.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    1973

    Leroy sets and random dot area calculation and my 1973 VW Beetle, my favorite car.
    WALSTIB

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    1973 - No Thank-You.
    First worst year of my life.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tom R View post
    Leroy sets and random dot area calculation and my 1973 VW Beetle, my favorite car.
    Zip-a-tone and Letratone. Intergovernmental environmental reviews that begin "In accordance with Federal OMB Circular A-95, the (insert name here)"
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  7. #7
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    No GIS or Google to do research on. No more answering e-mails. Not as many voice mails (but a lot more 'While You Were Out' papers). Having less complex reviews would be nice, not as many overlays or architecture review boards. The downside would be more boring meetings with no PowerPoint presentations to help keep my attention.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The place where I used to work never threw any supplies out, so we had all of the old-school 1970s era goodies!

    * Letraset rub-on lettering. Certain letters always ran out fast, and there were tricks like making an E from an L and F, an O from two Cs, and an A from a V and lowercase I.
    * Zip-a-Tone sticky color and pattern sheets
    * Those little border tapes
    * Leroy lettering sets
    * Planimeters
    * Tiny measuring wheels for maps
    * Overhead projector and blank transparencies
    * Kodak Carousel slide projector and film cameras (nothing beats Kodachrome for archival photography, IMHO)
    * Staedtler colored pencils and magic markers
    * Carbon paper (yes, we still had it!)
    * Drafting tables (all of us had one)
    * Light tables
    * Refillable pencils and lead pointers
    * Sandpaper pencil sharpening pads
    * Electric erasers
    * Eraser brushes
    * Hot wax applicators and refills
    * Tracing paper
    * Ammonia blueline copier (remember the days when applicants were required to submit mylars?)
    * Templates if varius sorts (circles, squares, triangles, French curves, highway shield shapes, and so on)
    * Other miscellaneous drafting tools: t-squares, angles, compasses, and so on.

    We had a 1980s-era lettering machine; not a Kroy, but still electronic. We were on the last tapes; after that, the machine was destined for the landfill, because refill tapes were unavailable. That lettering machine produced better results than any contemporary lettering machine from a big box office store.

    GIS existed in the 1970s, but they were raster-based systems on mainframe computers. We had natural resource maps from the mid-1970s that were printed by a mainframe impact printer.

    What I wish I stole from work before I was laid off: a series of about 200 to 300 slides in an "introduction to planning for the citizen planner"-type presentation from the Ohio AIP or ASPO. From 1967. I planned on swiping them, getting them scanned, and posting the images on Cyburbia. The imges are great; wonderful Kodachrome slides of suburban strips, subdivisions, central business districts and other elements of the built environment from the era. It'll probably end up in the trash someday.

    FWIW, I started off in planning in 1989, during a time that bridged the old "draftsman era" and the emergence of technology. There were computers and laser printers, but no networking, no email, and no Internet access. Scanners were uncommon, and most of those that were around didn't do color. No digital cameras, Powerpoint, or projectors. Vector-based GIS was in its infancy, and it was the rare city that was digitizing parcels and creating spatial datasets. Plotters were pen-based; they actually plotted, and a decent plotter cost as much as a luxury car. They were fun to watch! Staff reports were composed and saved on computers, but everything else was done by hand until the mid-1990s or so, when digital vicinity maps were incorporated into staff reports.

    Typical of the transitional era: property owner notification was really awkward. Take an assessor's parcel map, and hand-draw the boundary of a notification area around the affected site. Make sure you note all the parcel numbers. Enter them separately into a computer terminal connected to a mainframe at City Hall. Write down the results, because you can't print from the terminal. Give the list to your secretary, along with the appropriate letter on a floppy, and let her worry about mail merge, making labels, and so on.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    That got me thinking- how would being transported back to 1973 affect our ability as planners to do our jobs.
    You could've asked the same question, but only the person at the next desk would've heard it. No Cyburbia.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Dan and I started the same year. He forgot to mention that there was no Windows yet. Everything was run from the DOS command prompt, if you were lucky enough to have a computer. We also needed to type in the codes to make bold or underlined or italics text. There were not many options beyond that.

    There might be a bright side to going back to 1973. Knowing what has transpired over the last 3.5 decades, it would be possible to make investments that should pay off to the tune of several billion dollars. This would enable a good planner to purchase land for preservation and to become a developer of quality neighborhoods long before anybody hears of New Urbanism.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Fake City Issues

    Obviously, this Bear (not a planner) never had much of a chance to enjoy the morph dance as your planning methods became more and more tech-oriented. I made a few changes, biggie is probably using Excel for data. Here's a look at a non-planner doing a fake city, in a few different years.....

    1966
    Pencils and paper
    Straight edge
    French curves, circle templates, etc.
    Yardstick
    Olivetti-Underwood Electric Typewriter
    Index cards
    Carbon paper
    Metal file card boxes
    Manual pencil sharpener
    Research: Library, encyclopedias, maps
    Rolling Rock
    Background: Antenna-signal TV

    1973
    Pencils and paper
    Straight edge
    French curves, circle templates, etc.
    Yardstick
    Olivetti-Underwood Electric Typewriter
    Index cards
    Carbon paper
    Plastic file card boxes
    Manual pencil sharpener
    Research: Library, encylopedias, maps
    Rolling Rock
    Background: Cable-signal TV

    2008
    Pencils and paper
    Straight edge
    French curves, circle templates, etc.
    Yardstick
    HP Computer / HP Printer-Scanner
    Excel / Word
    Electric pencil sharpener
    Research: Internet
    Eraser pens
    Rolling Rock
    Cyburbian influence
    Background: Old movies, old TV programs

    Some Things Never Change Department
    When I started drawing De Noc (about 1965) I was using a plastic item called a "5 In 1 Protractor Plus". (They may not have called it by that name back then.) Over the years, I would purchase the little goodie, usually at a K-Mart or a drug store. A few years ago I could no longer find them, and the couple that I had were cracked and hard to use.

    Thanks to Mr. Internet, I found a source, and purchased a dozen more. Check out the source and the "sophisticated" tool that gave the world the "world's largest hand-drawn fictional city map".

    http://www.reuels.com/reuels/Drafting_for_Kids.html

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    * Planimeters
    On my first job (1979) I was handed a planimeter (wheel type) and was told to measure some map areas. The problem was no instructions. BUmmer.
    * Light tables
    On one job we had to tape maps onto windows and trace them that was.
    * Electric erasers
    Great way to melt a hole through mylar.
    I still have a proportional divider in my desk. I'll probably keep it until I see one on antiques roadshow.
    Last edited by Tom R; 12 Oct 2008 at 12:33 PM. Reason: More stuff.
    WALSTIB

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I remember using the planimeter and the drawing instruments and if some one was using the only light table, holding plans against the window.
    I also remember a CM who would come around at night and go through our plans and leave notes for us (usually on how we could do a better job). The problem was that he would take our drawing or drafting instruments and leave them some place other then at the desk he got them from
    We had to buy our own instruments including pencils at this city, but they did buy the ink for our drafting pens (not a good place to work) :- So moral was not particularly high any way.
    It was said that quite often obscene messages were left for him in work areas that everyone used(so the person doing it could not be pinpointed). Occassionaly the Director would hold meetings and tell us that this had to stop the CM was getting mad. Every one kept a straight face and looked innoccent

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus
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    With Leroy lettering sets you had to have a set of Rapidograph pens including a range of sizes from 000 to 4.
    Don't forget the refilling and cleaning.

    We still use ours, do you?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    First job 1980: you got a legal pad and pencil and wrote up reports for the secretary to type up for you. on an actual typewriter.

    Every desk came with a visitor chair and an ashtray.

    Your show sounds like "Peggy Sue Got Married" only a different decade...

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Another blast from the past

    In 1979 I was a planning technician in a small midwestern city. Was asked to pull some county level assessing data.

    Walked next door to the courthouse and spent the day flipping through yellowed index cards (the final copy of triplicate NCR forms) looking up the needed detail. Let's say it was lot size (this was 30 years ago, and a couple more important pieces of info have supplanted my memories).

    Later in the week, the planner drafting the new master plan requested another piece of data on the same parcels (say, SEV). I got to make that short trip again, find the exact same index cards, transcribe some more info.

    And yes, it was onto a yellow legal pad, using one of them old "pencil" devices.

    ETA: that planner, and one sharing my office area, would celebrate the afternoon a couple times a week by lighting up cigars. I am not kidding. Modernish building, the windows did not open. I'd go hide in the bathroom for the duration.

  17. #17
    The sad truth is that we just packed up our drafting table within the last month.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    1) I started 1 year before Dan, and I remember light tables, kroi machine and the diazlo machine-we kept ours in the back, in an enclosed area We had desk computers and I cut my teeth on Lotus and Word Perfect. Both are/were better than the microsoft junk.

    2) What planning ideas were they dealing with back then-what were the hot planning topics? As I recall from my planning history, wasn't planning all about urban renewal?
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    ...What planning ideas were they dealing with back then-what were the hot planning topics? As I recall from my planning history, wasn't planning all about urban renewal?
    The environmental movement was in full swing as we were realizing the need for clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, recycling, and other good stuff. Cities were coping with white flight while suburbs were booming and retirees were rushing to the south. We were cleaningup from the riots of the 60's and early 70's and coming to grips with stores leaving downtown, while new malls were going up in the suburbs. The interstate highway system was still being built.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  20. #20
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    2) What planning ideas were they dealing with back then-what were the hot planning topics? As I recall from my planning history, wasn't planning all about urban renewal?
    I think US cities were nearing the end of the urban renewal phase at that time; it was still going on, but not with the same ferocity as in the 1950s and 1960s. From what I remember seeing from old planning publications, the cutting-edge trends were:

    * Still a lot of sociological commentary on white flight and suburbia. In the 1970s, the American suburb as we know it now today was still relatively new.
    * PUDs and large planned communities. The loop-and-lollypop street pattern got its start around the time.
    * Conservation development.
    * Skywalks (Minneapolis), underground paths (Montreal, Houston, etc), and other "you never have to step outside" schemes.
    * Superblocks - urban renewal with street vacation.
    * Heavy rail revival; several cities either opened new systems or planned new heavy rail systems at the time. SOAC: State Of The Art transit car.
    * PRT / people movers.
    * Performance zoning. Performance zoning had a LOT of buzz in the 1970s, but few communities really implemented it; Bucks County, PA, Fort Collins CO, Largo FL and some others.
    * Very early growth control schemes; Ramapo and TDR.
    * 1970-style traffic calming: using barriers to create a maze of the urban grid.
    * Sign regulation; the start of the backlash against Googie-style design.
    * Linear parks.

    Places like Aurora, Colorado and Irvine, California would have a similar stature as Portland today; they were the places other planners looked to for inspiration.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  21. #21
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Plotters were pen-based; they actually plotted, and a decent plotter cost as much as a luxury car. They were fun to watch!
    Wow, does that bring back memories in the 90's of plotting the City Zoning Map (made with AutoCAD v. 10 for DOS and MapInfo 1.0, of course) on a pen plotter. Each pen was a different color and you never knew if a pen would crap out on you during a big plot. So, you had to stand there and watch the thing for the whole time until it was done. Changing a pen during the middle of a plot job was like performing a surgery. The Zoning Map took about 3 hours to complete, if all went well. They were fun to watch, but after about an hour it got a bit tedious.
    SOME say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Robert Frost (1874–1963) (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

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