The idea of a self-contained community sealed beneath a huge dome enclosure has been the source of many fantastic tales – from the flawed future societies of Logan's Run to the paranoid horrors of Stephen King's Under the Dome, and even the wicked satirical spin of The Simpsons Movie – but not many people remember just how close one American city came to becoming a real-life example of this surreal scenario.
Back in the late '70s, city planners in the small town of Winooski, Vermont (just north of Burlington) embarked on what they hoped would be a grand experiment: creating an enclosed, climate-controlled city beneath a square-mile dome, offering a futuristic solution to the town's weather and energy problems.
Image: International Dome Symposium
The plans brought major media attention to the town, with multiple contractors bidding for the work, and federal funds were appropriated to research the project. An architect was hired to draft the design, which would have been constructed of a flexible vinyl stretched over a metal cable framework. If completed, the dome would have prevented waste heat from escaping, creating a year-round farming climate. Even famed designer Buckminster Fuller, best known for his geodesic dome concepts, was interested in getting involved.
Image: H+ Magazine
Unfortunately for the planners, proposed federal funding failed to come through, the concept was abandoned as being too difficult and expensive to carry off, and the dream was – for the time being – returned to the shelf.
You can read the whole amazing history of the Winooski Dome at H+ Magazine, and learn more about the paperback editions of Stephen King's Under the Dome from our resident King expert, Kevin Quigley.