Elsewhere: Fake Omaha

@ goodspeedupdate- Planning a Fake City

Our novels, films, and urban planning textbooks are filled with imaginary cities. Whether utopias or dystopias, most of these fictional cities imagine what a city could be at its best — or worst. However, few describe an average city, let alone map out a typical 1,011 square mile American city in excruciating detail, complete with a named streets and an imaginary history. That’s precisely what my friend Neil Greenberg set out to do with his Fake Omaha project…

Doing the math, the entire metro area equals 1,011 square miles to scale.

RG: How big will the complete Fake Omaha be, both on paper and also if it were a real city?

NG: The Fake Omaha metro area exists on 17 sheets, each one 34 inches by 28 inches. All sheets observe the same scale (4 inches equals 1 mile) and design standards. It’s hard to give dimensions of the whole map, as it’s oddly shaped and it’s been fully assembled only three times.

Fittingly, my approach to planning the project mirrored the development of American metropolitan areas. I began with one sheet, a “zoomed out” core area of Fake Omaha and a few close-in suburbs drawn at a 1 inch equals 1 mile scale. In this area, I mapped major roads and land features. I blew this up 400 percent, traced the base features onto the larger sheets, and mapped minor streets directly onto each panel. This original area amounted to maybe 10 map sheets. I kept going, and ended up mapping seven “exurban” sheets not part of the original core map. The sprawl ceased only when I ran out of paper.

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