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Entries in pneumatic tubes (6)


International Travel of the Future (1932)

This illustration of international travel in the future, complete with robotic red-cap porters, appeared in the December 4, 1932 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX). It seems that all you need to do is step into the tube of your choice, then be shot out via capsule to your final destination.

The design has a very Rube Goldberg feel to it. Why one must first go down a slide, before ascending stairs couldn't be confirmed by presstime. The caption that accompanied the illustration is below.

INSTANTANEOUS INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL -- The artist here suggests the passenger terminals of the future, which, he thinks, will look quite different from the present steamship pier or railroad station. It will be noticed that everybody is equipped with a little personal radio antenna, and the arrivals and departures are announced by a mechanical man, while the red-cap porter is replaced by a robot who handles the luggage.

Previously on Paleo-Future:



City of the Future Postcards (circa 1910)


Leominster in the Future (postcard circa 1910)

At the turn of the 20th century, the postcard seemed to be a popular medium with which to imagine the future. While these depictions were often tongue-in-cheek they, like the Jetsons in the 1960s, held some kernel of truth about society's expectations for what was to come. We see in these two cards some things we might obviously expect like flying machines, subways, cars and monorail trains. The postcards however, also illustrate things that we take for granted today, such as a department of sewers building. Don't forget pneumatic tubes which, as well all know, made the postal service obsolete in 1924. I sure do love when my packages are delivered via Parcel Tube. How did we live without it?

These postcards from the early part of the 20th century were somewhat over-the-top in their depictions (see the floating park in the sky), but they reflected the optimism of the time, as inventions like the automobile and aeroplane ushered humanity into a fast, new mobile future.

Claremont, N.H. in the Future (postcard circa 1910)

Previously on Paleo-Future:


More Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (1901)

A few months ago we looked at the first part of fourteen-year-old Arthur Palm's predictions for the year 2001. Arthur was writing for his school newspaper, the Milwaukee Excelsior, in the year 1901.

According to the book Yesterday's Future little Arthur was probably influenced by this image from the January 12, 1901 Collier's Weekly.

Today we have the second half to Arthur Palm's 1901 piece.

You will see a tube stretched across the city called, "The United States Mail Tube," and a sign called, The Wireless Telephone Local and European. There will be saloons in the large buildings and in the window you will see the sign "Quick Lunch Compressed into Food Tablets." You may go to Europe in six hours by "The Submarine Line." The House-keepers will have an easy time; the dishes will be washed by electricity. In the year 2001, you will not see a single horse on Broadway, New York and only autos will be seen. In war the nations will have submarine torpedo boats which will destroy a whole fleet. In the year 2001, the locomotives will travel about 300 miles an hour, but I think it is not necessary because, before you know it, you will be killed by a locomotive. The people of the Earth will be in close communication with Mars by being shot off in great cannons. The cannon ball will be hollow to contain food and drink.

See also:
The Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
Your Own Wireless Telephone (1910)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
600 Miles an Hour (1901)
Food of the Future (Indiana Progress, 1896)
That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)


What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)

On Monday we looked at the German translation of a piece by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. for the December 1900 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Today we have the English version which highlights the coming advances of the twentieth century. Below the full text is provided but we'll be examining it further over the next few weeks.

Excerpts from the article below can also be found in the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins.

See also:
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1900)


The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)

In 1900 John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., author of many detective and mystery novels, wrote a piece for the December issue of Ladies Home Journal speculating about what the next hundred years held. Everything from weather control to pneumatic tube delivery to the science that will surely bring "strawberries as large as apples" were predicted.

According to the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins the Watkins article was translated into German for the Milwaukee Herold und Seebote (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) in 1901.

Above is a scan of the front cover of the January 1, 1901 Milwaukee Herold und Seebote newspaper and below is the article by Watkins. Stay tuned for an English-language translation and analysis.



I downloaded an episode of the first season of The Jetsons yesterday. It occurred to me that there is nothing more paleo-futuristic than the pneumatic tubes used to transport the characters. I can't wait until the world of transportation catches up to 1960s bank teller technology.

According to the Wikipedia post I linked to, (and who doesn't trust Wikipedia?), Jules Verne and Edward Bellamy both used pneumatic tubes in their 19th century novels. Flying cars, protein bars and pneumatic tubes are the dreams the paleo-future was built on.