Futurama (New York World's Fair)

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Futurama was an exhibit/ride at the 1939 New York World's Fair designed by Norman Bel Geddes that tried to show the world 20 years into the future (1959–1960), including automated highways and vast suburbs. The exhibit was sponsored by the General Motors Corporation. Compared to other "visions of the future," Bel Geddes' was rather achievable—the most advanced technology posited was the automated highway system, of which GM did indeed build a working prototype by 1960.[1]

Futurama is widely held to have first introduced the general American public to the concept of a network of superhighways connecting the nation. Bel Geddes expounded upon his design in his book Magic Motorways.[2]

An updated version, Futurama II, appeared at the 1964 New York World's Fair. This version depicted life 60 years into the future, this time 2024. Scenes showed a lunar base of operation, an Antarctic "Weather Central" climate forecasting center, underseas exploration and "Hotel Atlantis" for underseas vacationing, desert irrigation, and land reclamation, building roads in the jungle, and a City of the Future. Visitors rode through the dioramas in 3-abreast chairs on a ride train. The exhibit was again sponsored by General Motors and proved to be the most popular exhibit at the World's Fair with more than 26 million persons attending the show in the two 6-month seasons the Fair was open. Waiting lines were often two hours long and longer.[3]


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