These images of a moving sidewalk of the future ran in an 1890 issue of Scientific American. A moving sidewalk very similar to this was actually built for the 1900 Paris Exposition. You can even watch film of the sidewalk in action, shot by Thomas Edison. The images below can also be found in the excellent book Victorian Inventions by Leonard De Vries.
Entries in paris exposition (4)
From October 11 until December 27, 1900 the New York Observer ran a series of eight letters by a man named Augustus. He was reporting from the Paris Exposition of 1900. The second installment of the series, which ran October 18th captures the wonder of seeing a city engulfed in electric light and the hope for harnessing that revolutionary power in the future.
When the five thousand lamps on the Chateau d’Eau are lighted, and the thousands of other incandescent lights placed in the aisles and corridors, flame out, and when on a gala night, hundreds of trees are covered with electrical fruits, and the gardens filled with glowing electrical flowers, while every outline and arch and symbol on the towers and domes and minarets, from the lofty Eiffel tower to the kiosks on the lakes and the grottoes and caves of the aquarium, glows with the electric fire, one realizes as never before, how great a mastery man has acquired over this strange and powerful agent, and wonders what marvels and glories are reserved for us, by its means in the future.
To borrow a phrase from writers that would come much later, Augustus uses commas like other men use periods. Passages like the one above help those like me truly appreciate what it means to be in awe of technology.
We often throw around words like "revolution" when describing new technologies such as the iPhone or the Internet in general, and there is no doubt that they have and will make a profound impact on society, but it is important to place them in the context of what life was like before the world saw artificial, electrical light on such a grand scale.
The photo of 1900 Paris at Night is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection.
The New York Observer ran a series of eight letters from October 11 until December 27, 1900 by a man named Augustus. He was reporting on the Paris Exposition and part two (October 18) includes a description of the "traveling sidewalk" in action.
From this part of the fair it is possible to proceed to a distant exhibition which is placed in what is called the Champs de-Mars, without going out of the gates, by means of a travelling sidewalk or a train of electric cars. Thousands avail themselves of these means of transportation. The former is a novelty. It consists of three elevated platforms, the first being stationary, the second moving at a moderate rate of speed, and the third at the rate of about six miles an hour. The moving sidewalks have upright posts with knobbed tops by which one can steady himself in passing to or from the platforms. There are occasional seats on these platforms, and the circuit of the Exposition can be made with rapidity and ease by this contrivance. It also affords a good deal of fun, for most of the visitors are unfamiliar with this mode of transit, and are awkward in its use. The platform runs constantly in one direction, and the electric cars in the opposite.
Below is a photo of the moving sidewalk from the Library of Congress as well as a German postcard (circa 1900) of the moving sidewalk concept.