Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Horizontal Cities of 2031 (1931)

The December 6, 1931 Daily Capital News and Post-Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) ran a short blurb about Francis Keally's predictions for the city of 2031. Keally (1889-1978) was an architect who worked on the Oregon state capitol building in Salem, which was completed in 1938.
Francis Keally thinks that our future cities will spread out over great areas like monstrous eagles. One hundred years from today we shall have no batteries of skyscrapers to point out to our trans-Atlantic visitors. On the contrary our future cities, because of the aerial eye, will be flat-topped, and two out of every three buildings will serve as some kind of landing area for a super-auto gyroplane or a transcontinental express. What towers there are will be built at a great distance from the airports and will serve as mooring masts for giant dirigibles. The architects of our future aerial cities may have to go back to places like Constantinople and Fez for their inspiration of these future flat-topped aerial cities where one finds a low horizontal character to the entire city, occasionally broken here and there by a praying tower or a minaret.

Francis Keally also had an idea in the August, 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics for glass banks.

Previously on Paleo-Future:
The Family Plane of 2030 A.D. (1930)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Airplanes of Future Will Travel 1,000 MPH (1939)

The January 29, 1939 Hammond Times (Hammond, IN) ran this piece about the super-fast airplanes of the future. The article quickly devolves into a debate about how trustworthy air speed indicators are.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 -- Airplanes capable of flying nearly 1,000 miles an hour - 300 miles an hour faster than the speed of sound - will be developed "within a generation," federal aviation engineers confidently predicted today.

This prediction, carrying with it tremendous military and commercial implications, was made while the same engineers were expressing "some doubt" that the plane flown in a test dive last Monday at Buffalo, N.Y., actually reached the reported speed of 575 miles an hour.

A spokesman for the national advisory committee for aeronautics, which conducts government aviation research at its vast Langley Field, Va., laboratories, said that while NACA tests thus far have not developed speeds on assembled models of above 500 miles an hour, there is no incontrovertible reason to believe that a modern airplane can not attain a 575-mile-an-hour clip.

"The basis on which we entertain doubt regarding the 575-mile-an-hour speed at Buffalo is simply this: The air speed indicator in the planes showed 575 miles an hour, but it has been established that air speed indicators cannot be trusted too far," he explained. "In order to have been accurate, the indicator in the plane flown at Buffalo should have been adjusted at different levels on the way down during the dive. That, of course, was impossible."

Read more:
600 Miles An Hour (1901)
The Family Plane of 2030 A.D. (1930)
Cyclonic Rocket (circa 1930)
Aerial Navigation Will Never Be Popular (1906)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

French Flying Machines (1890-1900)


These French cards, archived at the Library of Congress, were produced sometime between 1890 and 1900. Most of the cards illustrate important feats from ballooning history between 1795-1846, while card number two (pictured above) depicts futuristic visions of flight from the 1800s. It's striking how similar these imagined flying machines are to those we looked at from 1885.

The Paleo-Future Store features button sets of those paleo-futuristic flying machines from 1885, which you can check out here.
Les utopies de la navigation aérienne au siècle dernier

Read more:
Flying Machines (circa 1885)
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)
Boy's Flying Machine of the 20th Century (1900)
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Commuting Will Be A Breeze (1957)


The October 22, 1957 Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune (Chillicothe, MO) ran this image of a flying bus of the future.
Commuting will be a breeze in the future, according to a national science magazine, which envisions tomorrow's workers traveling from home to business at 100 m.p.h. via a ducted-fan flying bus like the one above. The design, originated by Charles Zimmerman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, provides a control dome for pilot and copilot, and seats 40 passengers behind large door windows which provide an unexcelled view. Artist-author Frank Tinsley of Mechanix Illustrated magazine, depicts the craft, which will support itself on columns of air forced downward through its twin fans.

Read more:
Nuclear Rocketship (1959)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)
'Flying Saucer' Buses (1950)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Report From the Year 2050 (1984)

My interest in futurism can probably be credited to two things: Disney's EPCOT Center and children's science books of the 1980s and 90s. One of my earliest posts here at the Paleo-Future blog covered the EPCOT Center book, The Future World of Transportation. I vividly recall checking out the three books in this series from my elementary school library, my sticky fingers pawing through the technological promises Baby Boomers never saw materialize but insisted we Millennials would soon enjoy. Just over that horizon, just a little further! The year 2000 is going to change everything! We swear! 

The number is just so big. And round! 2000! Look at all those zeros. 2000!

To the author's credit they figured out that to sound even remotely plausible and still make me wet my Underoos over the advanced technology featured in the book, one had to open with a year further out than 2000 A.D.

And thus the first chapter, titled, "Report From the Year 2050." Below are four renderings of technology we are certain to have by the year 2050 (if those lying, deceitful Baby Boomers are to be believed).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Super-Highway of Tomorrow (1939)


While not spectacular to someone from 2008, this illustration of the "super-highway of tomorrow" was quite extraordinary to people attending the 1939 New York World's Fair. A concept drawing for the original Futurama, this image was found in the Official Guide Book to the 1939 World's Fair.

Read more:
Official Guide Book: 1939 World's Fair (1939)
Dawn of a New Day (1939)
Railroads on Parade (1939)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Family Plane of 2030 A.D. (1930)


The June 15, 1930 Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA) published a piece about the year 2030 as envisioned by F.E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead. Super-airplanes, synthetic food, eugenics and a 16-hour work week are just a few of his predictions. An excerpt about transportation from the piece appears below. Bibliodyssey has a great collection of illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer, which were used in Smith's book, The World in 2030 A.D.
In speaking of the "family" plane, a development conceded by almost everyone, Birkenhead adds that it will mean the relegating of the automobile to a most minor place in the field of transportation.

"By 2030," he says, "motor cars will probably have passed their zenith of popularity. A century later they will only be used for shopping, picnics and the amusement of youth. They will, in fact, sink to the level now occupied by the bicycle."

We may look forward then, it is to be supposed, to having our grandchildren tour the more out-of-the-way parts of the world and marvel at the "quaint" people who still chug here and there in automobiles even as we now smile at Bermuda where bicycles and horse-drawn buggies are the only forms of transportation allowed.

See also:
Sky Toboggan (1935)
Cyclonic Rocket (circa 1930)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Streamlined Cars of the Future


I was quoted today in the Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia) for a piece about the past and future of cars. An excerpt appears below.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, the developed world began an obsession with outer space. Comic-strip storyboards of domed futuristic cities and multilayered transport systems fired imaginations - and not just amongst children.

Our automotive pioneers were also looking forward, working to propel the newborn car - the horseless carriage - to meet a vision. And, shape-wise, it looked bubbly.

"The globule-shaped modes of transportation come from a 1930s obsession with streamlining," says Matt Novak, the founder of past-future commentary site www.paleofuture.com. "Creating streamlined modes of transportation gave the perception of efficiency and the perception that you were a part of the future was important."

See also:
What the future didn't bring
New Hampshire Public Radio (Jan, 2008)
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal
Article for MungBeing
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Postmodern Paleo-Future

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bucky Fuller's Dymaxion Car on Display


From the June 15, 2008 New York Times:
Buckminster Fuller’s 1933 Dymaxion, a streamlined pod on three wheels, is one of the lovable oddballs in automotive history. Three were built, fawned over by the media and by celebrities, but the car pretty much disappeared after one crashed, killing the driver.

Other streamlined designs have followed the Dymaxion, including, from top, the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr, the Z.car and the Aptera.

Only one of the cars survives, and New Yorkers will get a chance to see it this summer in an exhibition opening June 26 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York called “Buckminster Fuller: Starting With the Universe.” The car, a nonrunning shell, has been lent by the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nev.

“The Dymaxion was the zenith of the first wave of semi-scientific streamlining,” said Russell Flinchum, a design historian. It showed up in newsreels and magazines, along with teardrop designs drawn by Norman Bel Geddes, the futurist. It helped lead to public acceptance of streamlined cars like the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr.

The Dymaxion appealed to the era of the Depression, when people dreamed of radical new technological solutions to solve overwhelming problems.

See also:
Dymaxion Car of the Future (1934)
Buckminster Fuller Screenprints (1981)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
The Most Well-Documented Lives in History

Friday, June 13, 2008

Shopper Hoppers (1959)


The August 2, 1959 Chicago Tribune ran this Closer Than We Think strip about personal flying platforms of the future. It's in an image like this that I realize how fundamentally different our world would be had the flying car ever become a reality. You just can't beat an "over the rooftops" perspective.
A kind of "flying carpet" may be the answer to the problem of personal transportation in the future. The flying platforms shown here would be suitable for such uses as low altitude hops to neighboring shops.

Military models of these "hoppers" have already been developed at Piasecki Aircraft and Chrysler. The flat platforms are lifted by air blasts through ducts at the bottom. The vanes of the ducts are movable, to permit control of direction. These vehicles would hover like helicopters and move at city traffic speeds. Construction would be simple, and costs could be kept low enough for civilian requirements.

Next Week: Farm Rainmakers

See also:
Online Shopping (1967)
GM's Shopping Cart Car (1964)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bubble-Top Car (1948)


Leo Rackow's 1948 illustration of a bubble-top car of the future appears above. Its sleek, uber-streamlined design can be found in the book Out of Time by Norman Brosterman.

You may observe that there doesn't appear to be cord coming from the driver's phone. Is Mr. Future just listening to the ocean inside that handset? Or do you suppose that he's so rude he can't be bothered to speak with his mistress, who's so clearly making breakfast for him in the backseat?

See also:
Gyroscopic Rocket Car (1945)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)
Dymaxion "Car of the Future" (1934)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dymaxion "Car of the Future" (1934)


Resembling a whale out of water, here you see the Dymaxion, a three-wheeled vehicle being manufactured at Bridgeport, Conn., as "the car of the future." The invention of Buckminster Fuller, the super-streamlined model has two front wheels set midway in the ovaloid body and one rear wheel, set in the tail, which does the steering, rudder fashion. It uses little gasoline, but can travel 125 miles an hour.

The May 6, 1934 News and Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) ran the photograph above of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion "Car of the Future." The advertisement below, which ran in the April 23, 1934 New Castle News (New Castle, PA) used an image of the streamlined Dymaxion to help sell motor fuel.



See also:
Gyroscopic Rocket Car (1945)
Buckminster Fuller Screenprints (1981)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
The Most Well-Documented Lives in History
Sea City 2000 (1979)
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Sports Car of Tomorrow (1966)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Passenger Air Travel (1945)


The cover of the March, 1945 issue of Popular Science shows a streamlined bubble-top bus onto which passengers deplane. If we notice the less fantastic predictions of this illustration, (specifically, widespread passenger air travel), we find that this vision was largely realized.

See also:
Airport of the Future (1967)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Syd Mead Art for U.S. Steel (1960s)


Professor Michael Stoll has posted an amazing collection of promotional art Syd Mead did for U.S. Steel.

Prof. Stoll posted the Syd Mead images to the (Boing Boing Gadgets/Paleo-Future Blog) Flickr Group, In the Year 2000. The entire set of images can be found in the Portfolio of Probabilities photoset.

One thing that is interestingly absent from the illustrations is any clear indication of a flying car.






Brian Horrigan, co-author of Yesterday's Tomorrows was kind enough to recently lend me a 1961 U.S. Steel book titled Innovations, which contains similar work by Syd Mead. Stay tuned for more on that.

See also:
The Future World of Transportation
Syd Mead
Rhapsody of Steel (1959)
Rhapsody of Steel Film (1959)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Latest Type of Flying Machine (1901)


The May 10, 1901 Lincoln Evening News (Lincoln, NE) ran this illustration of "the latest type of flying machine."
A model of the very latest form of flying machine, shown in the accompanying illustration, is now on exhibition and has proved quite successful, being perfectly dirigible and easily controlled. As a flying machine of this type costs only $10,000, it is possible that wealthy Americans will soon be flying about in private aerial cars as tehy now speed over the county in their automobiles. "Own your own flying machine" will probably be the advice of dealers in "aerials" in the very near future.

This machine is the invention of M. Gaudron, a Frenchman, who claims that in this perfected "aerial torpedo boat" 100 feet long five passengers can be carried at a speed of 30 miles an hour. It will be driven by petroleum motors, with propellers, and the lifting power is hydrogen gas.

See also:
Boy's Flying Machine of the 20th Century (1900)
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
New London in the Future (1909)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Flying Machines (circa 1885)
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)
Pears Soap Flying Machine (1906)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

William H. Boyes Monorail (1911)


This image of the William H. Boyes monorail is from 1911 and can be found in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. The Monorail Society has a description of the monorail which appears below.
This test track was built and demonstrated in 1911 in the tideflats of Seattle, Washington. The rails were made of wood and track cost was estimated to be around $3,000 per mile. A bargain! The Seattle Times commented at the time that "the time may come when these wooden monorail lines, like high fences, will go straggling across country, carrying their burden of cars that will develop a speed of about 20 miles per hour." Like so many inventions, lack of financial backing prevented further development.

See also:
X-20 Monorail Toy (1962)
Frederick & Nelson Ad (1962)
Closer Than We Think! Monoline Express (1961)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)
Monorails at Disneyland (1959 and 1960)
Like Earth, Only in Space . . . and with monorails (1989)
600 Miles An Hour (1901)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Future Buses (1939)

The September 9, 1939 Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, NY) ran a short piece about the shift from railways to buses as a form of mass transit in New York City. The piece ended on an optimistic note about buses and alternative energy of the future. An excerpt appears below.
Doubtless some day the operators will have to meet the problem of increased fuel costs, for consumption of gasoline cannot go on forever at the present rate. But the day seems far distant when curtailment will be necessary - so far distant that no one save a few scientists and government conservation people are giving it any thought.

Even should shortage of gasoline develop, say, 50 years hence, it seems wholly probable that some new and economical means of propelling buses will have been discovered by that time.

Certain scientists are convinced that in the comparatively near future a method of transporting electrical current by wireless will be discovered which will make it possible to provide buses with power from central development stations.

See also:
Nazi Paleo-Futurism (1941)
'Flying Saucer' Buses (1950)

GM's Shopping Cart Car (1964)


Today we have a color photograph of the GM concept car we looked at back in August. The three-wheeled car was on display at the 1964 New York World's Fair and had a shopping cart which was detached directly from the rear of the car.

The color version of this photo is featured in the excellent book Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005.

See also:
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Sports Car of Tomorrow (1966)
Transportation Exhibits at the New York World's Fair (1964)
To The Fair! (1965)
Amateur Photos of NY World's Fair (1965)