Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The 1939 World's Fair - GM's Futurama Vision of 1960

This is a re-post from about this time last year. I thought I'd bring it to the front in light of GM declaring bankruptcy yesterday. In many ways, I see this as a turning point that moves us further away from the single passenger automobile as the primary mode of transit - one step on a very long road. These snippets from GM's Futurama remind us of what the auto companies' vision for land use was. A scary vision in retrospect.

Fascinating look back at what the future looked like almost 70 years ago. Many of the themes and paradigms shown here helped to shape the post World War II United States. Oh, but for the unintended consequences! I found these fascinating.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The hyperbole is so thick towards the end of the Part 2 you might need an air sickness bag. These really represented GM's vision of the future - traffic first, tons of their cars on the road, etc. Separation of industrial, commercial and residential uses for efficiency - yeah, get in that GM car and drive to each one rather than park and walk or bike or take mass transit anywhere.

Click here for a brief background on Alfred P. Sloan - GM's Chairman of the Board at the time. Click here for more information on the elimination of the streetcar nationwide and GM's likely role in it.

What's done is done. What this shows is that land use decisions that discourage the use of the automobile and encourage other modes of transit are the way of our future. We have a long way to go to make up for the sins of the past.

What do you think? Think of the ubiquitous role the automobile has played in the growth and development of our nation. Think about its role in the laying out of all of the post World War II subdivisions and its contribution to urban sprawl development patterns. Think about the current "echo" energy crisis and the $4.00 + we are paying for gasoline. Think about how Lake Worth can lead in the turning of the tide against the automobile. Think about our future 20 years from today.