Highways of Tomorrow - Whenever that is.

In 1946, Holiday magazine published a story about the new (at the time) highway system, and how it would end traffic congestion. All together now... "BAH hah hah hah hah hah hah hah *snort* hah hah har har har *wheeze* hah". Remember in Roger Rabbit, when Judge Doom revealed his grand vision for a highway system spanning the country, with restaurants serving rapidly prepared food? This is the same expression of an automotive fantasy, only without the insane grin.
In case you didn't know, the American highway system is based on the German Autobahn, which was conceived by our pal Uncle Hitler. There's an episode of Modern Marvels that covers this topic and is also fascinating, therefore you should watch it.

Anyway, back in '46, us Americans were all excited about highways, because we were tired of sitting in traffic jams. To the left you can see a picture of the Cahuenga freeway in California, shown as an example of what we can all expect to enjoy when Tomorrow comes. Yes, there will be plenty of room for all nine privately owned cars in the state of California. Actually, there's a reason to have a half mile of following distance between cars in this photo: at the time, that's the distance required to stop a car from a speed of twenty miles per hour. Cars were squishy, floaty, cast-iron tubs on wheels, and their brakes were based on the prayer system.

Maybe this photo was mistakenly printed as a negative, and the shot was actually taken at 3am, in the dead of night, when all normal people are sleeping? Wait.. nope. Closer inspection reveals that the cars have shadows. It must really be daytime! How bout that? I guess this is how they thought it would always be. More proof follows.
The highway system will forever destroy traffic snarls. See? See the big exes scribbled over the pictures? Stop being skeptical you skeptical jerk. Should we give the people of 1946 a break? After all, they'd just defeated Hitler. It was natural for them to assume they could also fix traffic. Things would really be much worse now without the highway system, and how could they forsee a time when every person in the country above the age of six would own two cars and use them  both simultaneously while cooking a turkey on the way to work? Maybe they imagined that in a few years everyone would get where they needed to be and just stay there, eliminating the need for cars at all?

Lastly, here's a picture of Lakeshore Drive, for Chicagoans to enjoy. I don't know where the Chicago is in the picture. It looks like a highway running past a farm or orchard of some kind. At least Chicago is more sophisticated than Cahuenga California. We have eighty-one cars and eleven boats.


Kurt Kanellos said...

My hour-and-a-half morning commute and I are looking forward to this amazing breakthrough highway design. And the sudden, maigcal obliteration of 95% of all commuters.

Jeremy said...

The LSD pic is of the Belmont exit. You could take the same angle today and it would look pretty much the same: the boathouse and the park are still there. Of course, there's a construction equipment parking lot just south of the boathouse as well.

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