thenextwave

Selling the highways dream – 50s style

Posted in cars, future, history, social, transport by thenextwavefutures on 29 December, 2007

If you’re interested in how the future is portrayed in the past – or in transport – this is certainly worth nine minutes of your time. From 1958, a section of a Disney show on the future of transportati0n. Or, as it turns out, the future of highways and cars.

A couple of points from me. The first is that although some of the futures portrayed haven’t come about yet (the solar powered car, the nuclear powered tunnelling device) a lot of it has, at least in essence, once you look beyond the animation and the chirpy narrative. The development of housing (and workplaces) to accommodate the car, for example; and the ‘urban sprawl’, which sounds a lot like Joel Garreau’s ‘Edge Cities’ but doesn’t appear to be regarded as a bad thing.

Second, a number of the futures which are offered here are still ‘live’ as futures; there’s a whole section on the ‘smart car’ which can be programmed and then takes over navigation and steering for you, still at the hart of a lot of intelligent highways projects.

Third, the complete lack of any sense of externalities. Create a society with the car embedded in it, and there’s still no congestion; not any impact of nature from driving new roads into wild areas (this is pre-Silent Spring, after all). And despite taking no exercise, no-one’s fat either, as Streetsblog pointed out.

2719 Hyperion has a good post which traces the history of the documentary this segment comes from and links it to EPCOT, Disney’s ‘future city’, or more exactly, ‘Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow’.

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