Now the mature cities with their Gothic nucleus of cathedral, town halls and high-gabled streets, with their old walls, towers and gates, ringed by the Baroque growth of brighter and more elegant patricians' houses, palaces and hall-churches, begin to overflow in all directions in formless masses, to eat into the decaying countryside with their multiplied rack-tenements and utility buildings, and to destroy the noble aspect of the old time by clearances and rebuildings. Looking down from one of the old towers upon the sea of houses, we perceive in this petrification of a historic being the exact epoch that marks the end of organic growth and the beginning of an inorganic and therefore unrestrained process of agglomerations. And now, too, appears that artificial, mathematical, utterly land-alien product of pure intellectual satisfaction in the appropriate, the city of the city-architect. In all Civilisations alike, these cities aim at the chessboard form, which is the symbol of soullessness. Regular rectangle-blocks astounded Herodotus in Babylon and Cortez in Tenochtitlan.
In the Classical world the series of "abstract" cities begins with Thurii, which was "planned" by Hippodamus Of Miletus in 441. Priene, whose chessboard scheme entirely ignores the ups and downs of the site, Rhodes and Alexandria follow, and become in turn models for innumerable cities of the Imperial Age. The Islamic architects laid out Baghdad from 762, and the giant city of Samarra a century later, according to plan. In the West European and American world the layout of Washington in 1791 is the first big example. There can be no doubt that the world-cities of the Han period in China and the Maurya dynasty in India possessed the same geometrical pattern. Even now the world-cities of the Western Civilisation are far from having reached the peak of their development. I see, long after A.D.2000, cities laid out for ten to twenty million inhabitants, spread over enormous areas of countryside, with buildings that will dwarf the biggest of today's and notions of traffic and communications that we should regard as fantastic to the point of madness.
- Oswald Spengler, "The Decline Of The West"