Weird Universe

Utopias and Dystopias

Charley in New Town

Once upon a time, the suburbs were going to be utopia.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Aug 21, 2013 | Comments (7)
Category: Domestic, Dreams and Nightmares, Government, Urban Life, Utopias and Dystopias, 1940's, Europe

Manhattan Super Terminal


If only this gargantuan structure had actually been built! What a different world we would have inhabited....

Original article here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Jun 04, 2013 | Comments (6)
Category: Engineering and Construction, Urban Life, Utopias and Dystopias, Transportation, 1930's

Los Angeles 100,000 years in the future

A headline in the Los Angeles Times, Apr 15, 1923. The author of the article, Ransome Sutton, elaborated:

Hairless, toothless, earless, toeless, head-heavy, all the useless scaffolding removed from the body, all the animal instincts erased from the mind, man will sit in a cushioned chair — a Jovian brain in a simplified body, like a dynamo housed in papier-mache — wielding thunderbolts.

So much concerning the inhabitants of Los Angeles in the year 101,923 AD.

Within the memory of old men, Los Angeles has grown into a city of some 700,000 inhabitants. Barring earthquakes, glaciers, acts of God and the public enemy, it should continue to grow, at an increasing rate, so long as mouths can be fed and the inhabitants housed. For it affords attractions of everlasting value — summery sunshine, health, rare air, good soil, scenery, the mountains in the background and in front the sea. Railroads extending to the eastward like a fan, and ocean routes radiating to the westward. Here, more surely than almost anywhere, continuous growth is insured.

Of course, he failed to foresee how bizarre many of the residents of Los Angeles would have become a mere 90 years later, let alone 100,000 years in the future!
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 24, 2013 | Comments (11)
Category: Utopias and Dystopias, 1920's, Yesterday's Tomorrows

Predictions for 2013, made in 1913

Sir Vansittart Bowater, predictor of the future

Back in 1913, Sir Vansittart Bowater, London's new lord mayor, made some predictions for how the world would look like in 2013 [Evening Independent, Dec. 6, 1913]. Now that 2013 has arrived, we can judge how accurate he was:

a horse will excite far more wonder and curiosity in the city than an aeroplane or a dirigible flying over St. Paul's does today

the drone of great airships, each carrying perhaps many hundreds of passengers, will also probably be heard across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

these new aircraft will require "the protection of pedestrians and householders, possibly by wire netting laid over the housetops and even over the streets."
I'm not sure if he was foreseeing chunks of frozen poop falling from planes (blue ice). If so, his powers of prediction were impressive. But as for the netting, he was incorrect.

the channel tunnel scheme may be a commonplace of actuality, with train services running every few minutes direct from London to Paris
The trains don't run every few minutes, but he got the general idea right, so I'll give him this.

London will assuredly find part relief from the congestion between now and 2013 by the extension of her suburbs

postmarks and stamps may exist only as curiosities
Stamps are gradually on the way out, but they're not gone yet. So I'm judging him incorrect on this.

a visit to Mars or the moon [may] be practicable in 2013... by harnessing the elusive ether, by electricity, or by some other at present unknown force capable of off-setting gravitation.
Correct! It was actually in 1914, one year after Bowater made his predictions, that Robert Goddard filed his first patent for a liquid-fuel rocket that would make spaceflight possible.

such awful scourges as cancer and the hidden plague will be as much a memory as plague and the 'black death' are to us today
Not sure what he meant by the 'hidden plague,' but as far as cancer goes, he was unfortunately incorrect.

he certainly will be a bold man in that year who will venture to say a person is dead beyond hope of resuscitation.
No. Dead is still dead.

Overall he scored 5 out of 9. Not bad. Better than most 100-year forecasts.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Jan 01, 2013 | Comments (11)
Category: Utopias and Dystopias, Yesterday's Tomorrows
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