Visionary Highway Film of the Week

Via BoingBoing, a few parts Norman Bel Geddes, add a dash of atomic utopianism, a twist of Broadacre City, and follow with a Wall-E chaser. Rather odd to see 1950s gender-work relations projected so far out into the future. But at least we’re finally getting the real-time traffic info!

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 at 4:54 am and is filed under Etc.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “Visionary Highway Film of the Week”

  1. Brian Weis Says:

    The truck train seem like a halfway decent idea, freight trains that can separate and go to individual places. But with a lot of the concepts shown there… can you imagine how fat we would get? Riding around on moving sidewalks and only having to walk 10 feet to the desk at work… But my personal favorite from the video? “On entering the city, the family separates. Father to his office, Mother and Son to the shopping center.”

  2. Rich Wilson Says:

    Interesting how everyone remains so skinny while sitting on their ass in a car all day long.

  3. John Says:

    One of your most interesting postings. Would I love to be able to go X-country at 160 MPH on something like what they showed– in a car not a train. A good solid 20 hour drive could get one from New York to California.

    Perhaps our density has betrayed this dream. Most of what they showed were “wide open spaces.”

  4. Alvin C. Says:

    Can the bridgemaking machine (2:15) really support itself on an arch with only one abutment?

  5. Jack Says:

    Aren’t these fantasies still shown at every DOT Christmas party? Highway escalators, nonstop farm-to-market cargo carriers, never any traffic, and “no driving responsibilities”- – so what went wrong?

  6. John Says:


    here’s what I think went wrong.

    Let’s say this film was made 50 years ago. As of 2009, the average posted speed has changed very little. Imagine if what they were showing, in all its glory, still only operated at limits of from 55 to 75 mph. We would not be satisfied. The film, throughout, uses the allusion of speed.

    How to get to limits of 150 mph? Bottom line, just like the fabled Autobahn, driver ability. Mr. Vanderbilt should give some press to the intriguing book American Autobahn, if he has not yet.

  7. Todd Scott Says:

    Perhaps one of the film’s biggest mistake is to assume significantly lower energy costs for construction, operation, and maintenance of these systems. That “atomic utopianism” call is spot on.

  8. Jack McCullough Says:

    I have a couple of thoughts. The first is to wonder how anyone would have been naive to watch this thing and think it could ever depict a plausible future reality.

    The second, though, is to think about how many of the ideas in the film have come to pass.
    Rear-view video cameras–check
    Dashboard displayed interactive maps–check
    Programmed travel routes–check
    People at work participating in conferences by “television”–check
    Ever-expanding commuting distances (and times)–check.

    We’re not there yet, and we pretty clearly never will be, but much of what we have now would have seemed like fantasy to us forty or fifty years ago.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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Metropolis and Mobile Life
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