Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

[Update: The Paleo-Future blog has moved. You can read and comment on this entry here.]

A Quick Stroll on the Water
Paleo-Future reader Tom T. sent me an amazing collection of postcards from the dawn of the twentieth century that depict what life would be like in the year 2000. According to Tom the postcards were originally featured here but have since been removed. The site claimed that the postcards were produced by Hildebrands (a leading German chocolate company of the time).

The Moving PavementHouse-Moving by TrainTelevised Outside BroadcastingPersonal Flying MachinesWeather Control MachineCombined Ship and Railway LocomotiveUndersea Tourist BoatsRoofed CitiesPersonal AirshipsSummer Holidays at the North PolePolice X-Ray Surveillance Machine

See also:
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)

65 comments:

John said...

Given that each card features "Hildebrands Deutsche Schokolade" or "Hildebrands Deutsche Kakao" in the upper left corner, saying the original site "claims" that the cards were produced by the Hildebrands chocolate company seems a bit too cautious! : )

There's a tongue-in-cheek quality to many of these cards. For example, the "Schonwettermachine" (good weather machine) bears a label that says "Deutsche Kakao" (German cocoa). Is it spraying cocoa powder into the air? Also look at the bank guard and his X-ray machine. He seems much more engrossed in watching the safecrackers than in doing anything to stop them.

It's fascinating how many of these 100-year projections are based on inventions and discoveries that were new or nearly so in 1900, such as X-rays and telephones. That's true of almost any technological prognostication: it describes the present, with tailfins.

Daniel Geduld said...

It really sucked when I tried to fly my personal flying machine to the city and got stopped by the city roof. You'd think they would have gotten rid of the roof what with the weather control device. I was going to take the moving walkway to get there, but the train/boat had derailed and blocked it. Plus, these guys stole all my money and all the cop did was watch them through the X-Ray machine.

2000 was a bad year.

Stephan said...

I've translated the descriptions in the lower right corner:

- Stroll on Water in the year 2000
- Mobile "traffoire" in… (as far as I can read it. Sorry but I can't make the letters out clearly. Also I don't know a word similar to that. I think it's french loanword)
- Mobile buildings in…
- Theatre in…
- Flying machines in…
- Good-weather-machine in…
- Train-ships in… / Rail-ships in…
- Underwater ships in…
- Roofed city in…
- Airships in…
- North-pole-trip in…
- Improved X-Ray in…

Anonymous said...

It would be great if their predictions about the health of our society were correct. Men doffing their hats, and women who don't look and act like men.

Frederik said...

Stephan, the 2nd card reads :
"Bewegliche Trotoirre im..."
where "Trottoire" comes from the French "trottoir", meaning "sidewalk".

wordswordswords said...

These are beautiful and really interesting--thanks for posting them. And thanks for the translations everyone. Summer vacations at the north Pole may become reality after all, sadly, and police controlled x-ray machines (as well as moving sidewalks) already are. I could use my own personal flying device; not sure why we haven't gotten those yet. And roofed-in cities aren't really such a bad idea (so long as something pleasant was painted on the roofs--with our society, we'd probably get nothing but ads on huge video screens).

A woman wearing pants said...

Ah yes, that idyllic time when sexual repression was rampant and the average life span was 35. Clearly we should all be wearing skirts again.

Anonymous said...

I am all for women wearing pants. Especially tight pants.

GaryG said...

I guess we've kind of already got the roofed cities if you consider some of the malls now in existence...

Marianna said...

garyg, especially in Potsdamer Platz: the Sony Center in Berlin

Jake said...

dude!!! I had most of those when I was a kid, handed down from my Granpa along with 100's of cigarette cards, Zeppelin tickets etc etc from the same era.... My mum threw the whole lot out after I left home - hate to think what the stuff would be worth on ebay these days :)

Tinkergirl said...

These are fantastic - thank you so much! I think they're planning on roofing a city in Kazakstan with a giant tent - a few years late, but pretty good nonetheless.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6165267.stm

Wonderful stuff though - I just need to get me an airship and my days will be far floatier and influenced by the wind...

Shannon said...

Those are absolutely charming!

Anonymous said...

They moved a building here in Wellington New Zealand by using railway tracks. See the link http://www.museumhotel.co.nz/history/index.html

Anonymous said...

John said..."Given that each card features "Hildebrands Deutsche Schokolade" or "Hildebrands Deutsche Kakao" in the upper left corner, saying the original site "claims" that the cards were produced by the Hildebrands chocolate company seems a bit too cautious! : )"

So we can assume that you take it on faith that these cards are genuine ;)

palmer_eldritch said...

John - "Also look at the bank guard and his X-ray machine. He seems much more engrossed in watching the safecrackers than in doing anything to stop them."

In what way is this 'tongue-in-cheek'?

Anonymous said...

At least the company is genuine: the "Theodor Hildebrand und Sohn" was
founded 1817 in Berlin - converted into Hildebrand, Kakao- und Schokoladenfabrik GmbH in the 1930ies, and was merged into http://www.stollwerck.de/en/ after buyout in 1969

see
http://www.theobroma-cacao.de/gaestebuch/2004/05/05/1389.php?we_objectID=358&pid=334 (German only)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scho-Ka-Kola (English)

Kevin said...

Well, I went into Fry's Electronics today riding up a moving sidewalk ramp into a faux ziggurat. The prediction was hardly off on that end.

And the weather control machine? Go skiing sometime and notice the snow-making machines. They're not the beautifully blinged Victoriana in the chocolate card, but there are some similarities in form and definitely in function.

Admittedly I'd still like my personal airship, but if you've gone parasailing over the water, you'll see a similarity to the water-walking balloon pictures.

Anonymous said...

We all ready got personal flying machines, they are called para gliders or hang gliders.

Arkonbey said...

I think what's neat is that three these silly things are now reality:

Police now using infra-red devices (not x-rays, though) to scan buildings

Undersea tour boats and holidays at the North Pole are commonplace.

But, I want my onithoptic personal flying machine!

Chaucer Arafat said...

My personal favorite has to be the penny-farthing-esque unicycle (uni-farthing?), although by late 2002, they were no longer in vogue.

Preston said...

Well they accurately predicted global warming and the melting of the northern ice caps ;)

Stefan said...

Thanks for posting these beautiful postcards.
A great example of the personal flying machine is the autogyro

thudlike said...

Somebody needs to create a time capsule of peoples imagined illustrations of life in the year 2100. For future laughs.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"It would be great if their predictions about the health of our society were correct. Men doffing their hats, and women who don't look and act like men."
April 24, 2007 8:22 AM

=============================
Yeah, what's with people being themselves and doing what they want? Who do they think they are?!

A Thoroughly Modern Woman said...

Yeah, how dare those men act as if women were worthy of respect! How dare they!

I am overwrought with indignation!

Julie Gomoll said...

Thanks so much for posting these. I'm delighted to have found your blog. I hope to send a few people your way :)
http://juliegomoll.typepad.com/jules_says/2007/04/days_of_future_.html

Anonymous said...

If you are rich enough, then personal flying machines are not that uncommon. What do you think a helicopter is?

Anonymous said...

Ahh the good old days. When women never had to get a DNA test to prove who the father was. Give me something to respect and I will.

Amy said...

Yeah..The Good ole days when Men had jobs and took care of their families instead of claiming the baby wasn't his and going on Maury Povich with his new pregnant girlfriend to demand his ex girlfriend take a DNA test. Myself and every member of my family and every female I personally know who have children have never had to take a DNA test to prove who the father was. Are you suggesting there was no loose women or infidelity back then? Caveman.

Robert said...

Re: Post from Stephan from April 24.

You're right, the word is from French. It is "trottoire" and it is a sidewalk or pavement. At this time in the German language, many more words from French were used than are used today. Another example was the German use of "Champagne" instead of "Sekt" which is the word primarily used in contemporary German. Fortunately, Swiss-German still uses many French words, including trottoir(e) instead of the German "Gehsteig".

Thanks for the translations!

Christian said...

According to Rebecca Read Shanor's The City that Never Was (a delightful history of unbuilt projects in New York), the moving pavement idea was semi-seriously proposed as a replacement for the Times Square - Grand Central shuttle line. The scheme would have involved three belts at separate speeds (three, six, and nine m.p.h.), with the slowest to the outside - passengers could then just step onto the next faster belt.

I think whoever proposed it must've been a personal-injury lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Personal air ships, anyone?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Harpers.jpg

Caption: "C.F. Ritchel of Bridgeport [Connecticut] riding his dirigible, as shown on the July 13, 1878, cover of Harper's Weekly."

Anonymous said...

Oh, and you can find the Wikipedia article about Richtel and his flying here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_F._Ritchel

Angelia Sparrow said...

The steamship/railway combination looks rather like the amphibous vehicles used during WWII, commonly called "ducks." There are still some around. I know we have them in Memphis, and there are some in Branson Mo.

I find future predictions fascinating. And while I like slidewalks, I'm rather glad personal flying machines never took off. I'm afraid of heights.

I found this blog by way of a steampunk blog. I'm a writer and working on some steampunk.

Anonymous said...

People always doing what they want makes civilization impossible - sometimes they want to rob you, for example. If you want to call that 'repression. go ahead.

Most adults lived longer then 35, but higher infant mortality brought the average down.

Women in pants just look funny.
cf. Ogden Nash:

Sure, deck your lower limbs in pants
Yours are the limbs, my sweeting.
You look divine as you advance — Have you seen yourself retreating?

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting there was no loose women or infidelity back then?

Nope just that it's more prevalent today.
I just love Who my baby daddy day? on Maury.
"I know he's the daddy, I ain't slept with nobody else, oh not him? then it must be the other only guy I slept with"
Good times...

Now back to the kitchen, make me a sammich!

VonKraut said...

In 1900, life expectancy for men was 49.7 years and for women 50.9 years

Just sayin

Amy said...

So what does it say about the men who sleep with these women? Are they victims of the conniving women who duped them. Please, they want an easy lay, girls with low cut tops and uber short skirts and then they act SHOCKED when such women sleep around. Let's not even talk about the amount of men who go outside of their marriage or sleep around themselves. Just because there is no tangible evidence that they do it such as a child, doesn't mean they don't do the same thing. And were there ever an occasion to make you a sammich, it would likely be laced with Ex lax so your backside can spew something with more substance than your previous comments.

Anonymous said...

nice burn amy
all i have to say to that guy is OWNED!
but i must admit, all i see is dirty whores
perhaps its just where i live...
i hope.... (a nerdy guy)

Anonymous said...

Yes men do it, and women do it.
So I guess that makes it ok and perfectly acceptable to the mental midgets that comprise modern day society.

Here's a quarter, buy a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

About "The Moving Pavement". The word is "trottoire" (not troffoire) and yes, it's a French loanword; in french is trottoir, actually. It means sidewalk (pavement or footpath if you prefer).

Kellyst said...

My first reaction was to lauch - then I realized we have most of them.

A Quick Stroll on the Water


The Moving Pavement (moving sidewalks are common in airports, malls)

House-Moving by Train (Ok we use big trucks most of the time)

Televised Outside Broadcasting ( oh yeah!!)
Undersea Tourist Boats (Yup)
Roofed Cities ( Mall of America? Galeria? -- hell skyscrapers!)

Personal Airships/Personal Flying Machines
( yup though they arn't at the flying car in every garage level)

Summer Holidays at the North Pole
( or ever other place you can think of - even in orbit!)

Police X-Ray Surveillance Machine
( Does infared count??)


Weather Control Machine ( well no)
Combined Ship and Railway Locomotive (?? what was the point? Perhaps in a non containerized cargo era)

Anonymous said...

It would be great if their predictions about the health of our society were correct.

They were, except that was in Afghanistan, under the Taliban.

That's true of almost any technological prognostication: it describes the present, with tailfins.

Perfect.

-JR

Claudia said...

According to Rebecca Read Shanor's The City that Never Was (a delightful history of unbuilt projects in New York), the moving pavement idea was semi-seriously proposed as a replacement for the Times Square - Grand Central shuttle line. The scheme would have involved three belts at separate speeds (three, six, and nine m.p.h.), with the slowest to the outside - passengers could then just step onto the next faster belt.
==============================
That was the backdrop of Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll"

Anonymous said...

I remember Career Day in High School in the late 60's. Hell, half the jobs available now didn't exist then, and many desirable jobs then don't exist ANYMORE.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the work you did on this post. SDA linked to it. WOW. Just another reminder for all of us that climate change has always been a concern but no society, except for today's liberal society, has ever threatened to push us back to the stone age to meet (or exceed) ridiculous kyoto targets.

Stacia said...

According to the CDC.gov site, the average life expectancy at birth was 47 years. Wonder where the 35 years figure in that Ladies' Home Journal article comes from? Any why would they predict a lifespan of 50 years when they were almost at that point anyway? Weird.

ITI said...

Świetne... i część się nawet sprawdziła, ale reszta przez te koszty...

Anonymous said...

- Mobile "traffoire" in… (as far as I can read it. Sorry but I can't make the letters out clearly. Also I don't know a word similar to that. I think it's french loanword)

it's trottoir

منتديات said...

2000 was a bad year

Anonymous said...

Champagne and "Sekt" are two different things. For your information, Champagne is a kind of Sekt that comes from the Champagne. Sekt is basically just sparkling wine. And for the swiss using many french words, well, switzerland consists of french, italiens and germans (swiss germans). So the country has three native languages. Makes sense that they interact. The actual reason for German being influenced by the French language is far older. Back when the Huggenotten came to Germany because they were being hunted down in France. There are still many words in the german language: 'portemonai', 'necessaire', 'fissematenten' which actually is 'visitez ma tente', 'balkon', 'garage', 'etage', 'parterre', and many many more.
As for these pictures, they are a typical kind of advertisement that would be handed out and then be in your home! Quite clever back then already. I dont actually know as a fact, but I could imagine that these were also collecters cards, so kids would collect them, trade them, sell them. And I guess having the year 2000 the topic makes them so much more interesting.

vonHeist said...

Living languages tend to add some fashionable loanwords to their dictionaries every now and then. This doesn't necessarily need close contact between speakers of different languages. Nationalist ideologies during the last decades of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century advocated some "clean-up" of what was then thought of as an aberration.

Sadly today's german language has a tendency of integrating loanwords made up by marketing and advertising divisions - if only it sounds American enough. Like "handy" for mobile phone.

Aaaaand there's a whole oktoberfest of germaniac words in English.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_German_expressions_in_English
(And sometimes german culture is loved and lived so much more intensely in America than in Germany itself)

Now for something completely different - the early 20th century was the time when women's rights movements all over the world (the north-western part of it, but that's what counts, doesn't it) gained momentum.

Let's just hope they enjoyed their "Hildebrands'" chocolate.

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lone_striker said...

Yeah, whatever will the future be like in 2100..?

It's funny how since the 80's it seems as though these types of futuristic dreams have seemed to peter out some.

Personally, I don't really care. The romance is dead, really. As Ecclesiastes says "Nothing is new under the sun." I used to think that stupid, until I realized that he wasn't talking about the Space Shuttle or silicon implants.

That we think that there can be anything radically, sustainably new, will bring us- no has already brought us to a degree unacceptable - dystopia. Hitler, Pol Pot, Bush, blah, blah, all messianic insanity.


People (to include myself) are fools. We won't change. That's the only fact that matters.

And all the so called progressive ideas (natch including feminism and all the technological advances that make it all possible) draw us from the fundamental biological and spiritual realities that undergird us. Not to be Orwellian or a Luddite (I'm a fool, afterall) but I think we're losing it.

"It," to include or romanticism & imagination.

But like I say, whatever.

Anonymous said...

These are an absolute treasure. Thanks for posting them.

A man without pants said...

Wow, Lone_striker you are rather bright compared to most biased bloggers *COUamyGH*.. excuse me had something in my throat.. on the webernet.

I like to see people get so worked up about men womanizing and loose women. It doesnt matter, we are all the same. Both men and women in this world use sex like every other disposable commodity. Nothing is sacred anymore, not even children. "Yay freedom" right? At least the view of the future back then was romantic and optimistic.

Corinth, Soddom and Gomorrah, they had freedom didnt they? Yet we see their sexual exploitation of others as contrary to all we think is the standard to propriety.

There is nothing wrong with dresses since men used to wear skirts at one time. If we as a great futurama society are truly enlightened, shouldnt we be more concerned about more important dilemmas then whats on Maury or what video game is coming out next summer?

Yes, there is nothing new under the sun. Pants or no pants.

Ralf said...

Feine Sache

Martin said...

Good Job! :)

x-ray fluorescence said...

Hi,
Nice post.It would be great if their predictions about the health of our society were correct.

Anonymous said...

Here's a cache of the original page, with lots of information: http://web.archive.org/web/20020206113530/http://www.cardmine.co.uk/Year2000.htm

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Anonymous said...

It's fascinating how many of these 100-year projections are based on inventions and discoveries that were new or nearly


There's a tongue-in-cheek quality to many of these cards. For example, the "Schonwettermachine" (good weather machine) bears a label that say.

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