Viewing the World of Tomorrow, Futurama, 1939.
At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, GM created “Futurama.” The centerpiece of their exhibition was a giant model of the American landscape of the future, 1960. Visitors took seats around the circular model, and slowly rotated to take in all of the prognostication. The caption on the image below, from Futurama, reads: “Two 14-lane express highways cross in 1960.” Direct hit, GM.
GM’s Futurama, New York World’s Fair, 1939.
We have been gazing into the future for quite a long time, and often with pretty deadly results. Here are two more 20th century visions: Le Corbusier, stirring up controversy by proposing to bulldoze central Paris with his Voisin Plan, and Frank Lloyd Wright and his whirlybirds in the anti-urban Broadacre City. In retrospect, we actually did build the Voisin Plan, or something quite like it, in Chicago. It was public housing, called the Robert Taylor Homes, and now bulldozed itself. And Broadacre City became a kind of template for something we have come to know as suburbia.
Le Corbusier’s Voisin Plan, Paris, 1925.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City, first described in 1932.
Robert Taylor Homes, Chicago, completed in 1962.
Schaumburg, Illinois. Image by Alex MacLean.
Ironically, it may have been Hanna and Barbera who cut closest to the truth, with the Jetsons, which began in 1962 and ran into the 1980s. Note the alarmed look on George’s face, and the date on Jane’s watch – 2007. Hmm.
George and Jane, Judy and Elroy – the Jetsons.
As we cast about for images of mobility for the next city, maybe these guys have it right.
The Segway guys, in Toronto.
Out into the world of tomorrow! But be careful what you wish for.