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Abstract

General Motors’ Futurama exhibit at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair offered a wildly popular immersive experience of American automobility twenty years in the future. The Fair proclaimed the “Dawn of a New Day” in “The World of Tomorrow” through comprehensive innovative architecture and design, which promoted the primary role of new technology, especially in the field of transportation. Futurama harnessed techniques of theatre and multi-media in unprecedented ways. Its narrow aim was to foster the construction of new highway systems hospitable to the growing population of modern cars. More broadly, Futurama sought to inculcate a new way of thinking about an auto-centric future, with fast, safe travel at the core of everyday life. The paper examines how this remarkable socio-technical imaginary was constructed by Futurama in the context of the New York World’s Fair.

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