Asa D. sent in an animated 1958 Disney segment titled “Magic Highway USA.” The cartoon extols the virtues of the highway system of the future (the interstate highway system was authorized by President Eisenhower in 1956). Apparently it is farther into the future than 2010, as my windshield does not have a radar, and road construction around here doesn’t seem to be instantaneous:

The segment of course illustrates gender expectations of the time — dad goes off to work while mom and the kid(s) go shopping. But as Asa points out, this example of the “techno-utopianism” of the post-World War II era, with faith that modern technologies will lead to a happy future that increasingly frees us from unpleasant work, boredom, wasted time, and so on, is truly fascinating.

Providing a nice contrast to that earlier vision, Dmitriy T.M. let us know about the stop-motion short video Metropolis by Rob Carter. The entire video, which is 9 1/2 minutes long, gives an abridged history of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Here are the last 3 minutes (you can see the entire video here). In this segment, we see the unfolding of a large highway system and urban construction/destruction/reconstruction. At about a minute in, “the video continues the city development into an imagined hubristic future, of more and more skyscrapers and sports arenas and into a bleak environmental future” (quote found here):

Metropolis by Rob Carter – Last 3 minutes from Rob Carter on Vimeo.

NEW! (May ’10): Kris H. sent in another example of envisioning the future. The Futurama, an exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair, promised a future in which interstate highways will allow people to bypass slums, relieving us of the work of fixing them (found at Neatorama):