The original Futurama — dreams of futures past

Long before the animated TV series, the original Futurama was a non-ironic look into the marvels of the future. In this case, though, the year was 1939. The Great Depression had been dragging on for a decade, and the horrors of World War II were yet to emerge. Optimism was the main course on the menu.

At the World Fair in New York, the General Motors pavilion featured Futurama — a look at the wonders of the far-off world of 1960! In this thrilling vision of the future, 7-lane superhighways are everywhere (mind you, in 1939, most roads in the U.S. were still unpaved), car traffic is rendered safe through radio-based driving control systems (!), “most towns” have electricity, and airports rotate on a pool of liquid and feature giant dirigible hangars!.

As is the case for most visions of the future, Futurama says more about its makers than about the future. Still, it’s a fun and revealing way to spend about 15 minutes of your time.

Here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

If you’d like to wander around a bit more in this vision of progress, you can check out web sites here, here, here, and here.

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