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A domed city is a kind of theoretical or fictional structure that encloses a large urban area under a single roof. In most descriptions, the dome is airtight and pressurized, creating a habitat that can be controlled for air temperature, composition and quality, typically due to an external atmosphere (or lack thereof) that is inimical to habitation for one or more reasons. Domed cities have been a fixture of science fiction and futurology since the early 20th century, and may be situated on Earth, a moon or other planet.
It is not clear exactly when the concept of a domed city first appeared. The phrase "domed city" had come into use by the 19th century in a different sense, meaning a skyline with dome-topped buildings. One catalog of early science fiction mentions the 1881 socialist and white supremacist fantasy Three Hundred Years Hence by British author William Delisle Hay. Hay's book describes a future civilization where most of humanity lives in glass-domed cities beneath the sea, allowing the surface of the earth to be used primarily for agriculture. Several examples from the early 20th century are also listed.
Authors used domed cities in response to many problems, sometimes to the benefit of the people living in them and sometimes not. The problems of air pollution and other environmental destruction are a common motive, particularly in stories of the middle to late 20th century. As in the Pure trilogy of books by Julianna Baggott. In some works, the domed city represents the last stand of a human race that is either dead or dying. The 1976 film Logan's Run shows both of these themes. The characters have a comfortable life within a domed city, but the city also serves to control the populace and to ensure that humanity never again outgrows its means.
The domed city in fiction has been interpreted as a symbolic womb that both nourishes and protects humanity. Where other science fiction stories emphasize the vast expanse of the universe, the domed city places limits on its inhabitants, with the subtext that chaos will ensue if they interact with the world outside.
In some works cities are getting "domed" to quarantine its inhabitants.
- The Bubble, a 1966 film
- The Truman Show (1998), set on in island covered by a dome
- The Simpsons Movie, a 2007 film of the TV series The Simpsons
- Under the Dome, a 2009 novel by Stephen King and the TV series adoption of the same name
- Girls, a 2005 comic book series
- In the 2013 science fiction video game Crysis 3 the private military company C.E.L.L. erected giant domes around cities – including New York City – in order to kill off the rest of the hostile aliens from the game series. The domes cause a rainforest atmosphere in the urban environments and have the hidden purpose to help C.E.L.L. in their conquest for world domination through technology.
- In the 2006 anime series Ergo Proxy domed cities are smart city-infrastructures created for the survival of mankind in the post-apocalyptic age. They are designed to be self-sufficient and to support a small controlled population of people and their robot companions and entourages.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the domed city concept was widely discussed outside the confines of science fiction. In 1960, visionary engineer Buckminster Fuller described a 3 km geodesic dome spanning Midtown Manhattan that would regulate weather and reduce air pollution.
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