"This paper examines the urban design of seven planned capital cities in thecontext of their cultural and political history. In examining the plans ofthese capitals--Washington, D.C., Canberra, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Bra-silia, Abuja and Dodoma-- the paper analyzes the reasons behind the loca-tons of these cities and the symbolism behind the location of major govern-ment buildings within them, it is argued that close observation of theintended spatial form for these capitals reveals a great deal about the natureof the political ideals that forged these momentous partnerships betweengovernment leaders and designers.The paper begins with a discussion of ideas about "centrality" of location fornew designed capitals, and identifies and categorizes the kinds of politicalpressures that led to the cohice of site in each of the seven cases. The rest ofthe paper focuses in on the central areas of the capitals, In an attempt toidentify the spatial and political hierarchies implied byeach of the seen ur-ban design master plans. In the plans for each of these seven designed capitalcities, it is argued, the designers attempted to create a kind of ideogram forthe political system of the country.A central distinction is made between designed colonial capitals and designedpost-colonial capitals. Lutyens' plan for "Imperial Delhi" is the only one ofthe seven in which the plan is centered on an executive presence (the Vice-roy's palace), indicative of British commitment to continued colonial ruleover India. The other six designed capitals exhibit their planners attempt tocome to terms with certain ideals of democracy: the symbolic center of thecity is given over to facilties for publicly-elected legislatures. In the de-signed capitals considered here, these attempts at promoting the idea ofrule "by the people" take one of two spatial forms. The first type reuses theolder monarchy-driven idea of the central axis but-- as the terminus of theaxis-- substitutes the parliament building for the royal palace. Theplans for washington, D. C. and Abuja are examples of this strategy. A secondtype also makes use of a central axis, but terminates the axis not with asingle building but with a public plaza or constructed vista. Canberra (atleast in Griffin's original plan), Chandigarh and Brasilia fall into this cate-gory. Dodoma, designed for socialist Tanzania, somewhat fits within thispublic plaze model, but also suggests the need for a new category of designedcapital. In the urban design plan for Dodoma, the old notion of the monumen-tal axis is challenged; the patp through the heart of the city is fragmentedinto a series of gradually ascending pedestrian-scaled terraces, with a mix-ture of institutional, commerical and residential facilities located at eachlevel. This symbolism of this approach, however, is thoroguhly subvertedby the alien presence ofthe Party headquarters high atop a nearby hilt.By way of conclusion, it is argued that these seven city plans reveal muchmore about the persistence of the need to demonstrate political power thanthey do about any abstract ideals of democracy. Moreover, , interpretation ofthe messages encoded into these city plans by their designers is necessarilyinsufficient, and must be altered in response to political changes, adaptivere-use of buildings by new regimes and continued growth of these capitals inunpredicted dimensions."