Future Raleigh: Circa 1965

The following images are taken from the North Carolina State Capital Plan, approved in 1965. The book is in pretty good condition for being 53 years old!

UPDATE: After sharing these images with the Raleigh YIMBY Google Group, I was informed by Michael Stevenson that this plan finds its roots with Le Corbusier. Find his full comments at the bottom of the post.

UPDATE 2: Ryan Cooper aka @maptastik made an awesome interactive overlay map where you can compare the 1965 plan to present day Raleigh!

UPDATE 3: April, 2018. I was able to visit the digital archives department at UNC’s Wilson Library and see where will be scanning their copy of the 1965 plan! Should he publicly available within a month.

UPDATE 4: June, 2018. You can access the complete scan here. Feel free to share with others!



Enter Michael:

We studied this plan in the NCSU School of Design back in the late 70’s; at the time it was considered enlightened urban planning.
In reality it was the culmination of an intensely anti-urban planning philosophy that was advanced by the leading architects of the 20th century like Frank Lloyd Wright, and specifically in this case by Le Corbusier.
The Raleigh plan was derived from Harrison & Abramowitz’s Empire State Plaza plan for the state capital in Albany, NY, which itself was inspired by Oscar Niemeyer’s plan for Brasilia.
Brasilia was a complete realization of Corbusier’s philosophy of automobile-based planning that espoused eliminating the concept of the urban street; he named it the Radiant City and it came to be known here as ‘towers in the park’.
Fortunately the Raleigh plan was only partially realized and only the central part of the north downtown street grid was removed, but even so much damage was done and today the north end of downtown is a sterile, lifeless non-place that nobody wants to walk in.
Ironically the vibrancy suggested in the rendering of the terrace restaurant is not to be found anywhere in the government complex; all of that is thriving in the old part of downtown south of the Capitol where the original street grid and urban fabric were left intact.
Empire State Plaza- Albany, NY
Brasilia, Brazil
The Radiant City

Have questions about the document? Shoot me an email!


This post originally appeared on The Acorn