Pictured above: Futurama by Norman Bel Geddes
VAV!/December 29, 2013
Norman Bel Geddes(April 27, 1893 – May 8, 1958) was a theatrical and industrial designer, director, producer, theater architect, and author who focused on aerodynamics. He was a visionary who was referred to as "the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th century". Through his voluminous works as an innovator, he set the standard for streamlining of 20th century and helped make America during the 1920s and 1930s into the future beyond.
Bel Gedde's design of the Futurama exhibition at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair , held in Flushing Meadows in the Borough of Queens, was pure genius. The exhibit encompassed some 35,000 square feet with detailed scale models of highways, 500,000 individually designed miniature buildings, 1 million trees of 13 different species and 50,000 scale model cars and buses, of which 10,000 actually moved. The theme of the Futurama closely fit with the fair's overal them, "The World Of Tomorrow" and envisioned the world some 20 years into the future (1959-1960) The exhibition, sponsored by the General Motors corporation, first introduced the public to the concept of a network of vast expressways connecting the nation.
Pictured above: Futurama Exhibit, World's Fair 1939
Best viewed, the exhibit featured a ride in an upholstered armchair equipped with speakers built into the back of the chair. Fascinated visitors stood in line for hours to experience the ride that propelled them through the exhibition's miniature, yet very realistic landscapes featuring transportation of the future. A pre-recorded voice of a narrator, synchronized with the chair's movement, described the world of tomorrow as automated highways and endless suburbs rolled by the eyes of exhuberant passengers. (Note: Another Futurama, Futurama II, debuted at the 1964 World's Fair held in New York.)