How people from the 1900’s imagined the future and how different and similar is our current present?

Predicting the future and time capsules – sounds like a sci-fi movie. Nevertheless humans have been trying to predict the future since forever.

What can we humans actually predict? The past and the present, since it already happened or is currently happening. By doing so, we can understand how differently or similarly we are actually living when comparing our present to the past visions.

And that’s what this article is about: understanding how accurate were the 1900’s predictions for the 21st century on transportation, energy, technology in our personal lives, cities and finally housing (spoiler alert: the co-living lifestyle was kinda of predicted).  

No astrology involved, just facts (although we kinda like astrology).

Predictions on transportation:

We would all have a very creative or flying car.

In transportation and with Ford Motor Company being able to produce 300.000 cars in one year by 1914 with the assembly line, futurists imagined today we would all own a car. Not far from true, however the envisioned cars look nothing like the ones we are actually driving.

If the predictions were real, today’s cars would have sides entirely made of glass, free moving seats and they could have been shaped as air-filled spheres. The french artist Jean-Marc Côté went even further since he believed we would be traveling daily through land and air. In his artworks he imagined that by 2000 we would be mainly moving in flying taxis and public transportation or levitating battleships.

Well, at least in the 21st century we see some beautiful designed cars and we are certainly flying a lot via air in low cost airplanes for work or leisure, on a daily basis or once a year (or none at all). The flying public transportations are still a big dream of ours and we actually like the simplicity of a beautiful bicycle invented in the 19th century as a mean of transportation – at least us, samesamers. 

Predictions on energy:

Arrhenius saw climate change coming.

Some scientists like Arrhenius predicted there would be climate effects on using fossil fuels. He believed that one day it would be possible to generate natural energy, from the waves and the sun rays. 

Well, he certainly was a visionary and we hope his predictions on sustainability get even more real. If he was alive, we would be honored to have him has a co-liver at samesame.

Predictions on technology and personal living:

Technology for the convenience of the people.

In the 1900’s, the civil engineer John Elfrith Watkins imagined technology to be primarily used for the convenience of the people. He saw the power of cameras and screens coming:

“Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span.”

He foresaw the television and mobile phones in our lives. He even imagined we would be able to attend socially-distant concerts and operas in the comfort of our homes and send coloured photographs globally and quickly. 

He also predicted how technology would change the way we eat. He dreamt about the existence of refrigerators and moving refrigerators, allowing us to transport fresh food. 

Guess what? We are thankful he’s predictions came true. Especially in this beginning of 2020, where most of us are home and socially-distant. Thank you for our technological devices, for the live concerts through social media, for the power of selfies and video chatting.

Thank you, Universe, for our refrigerators keeping us happy and sane.

Predictions on cities:

Planned and technological cities with layered airports.

Although formerly to the 20th century the predictions for today were mainly about better relations between people over time, by the beginning of the 1900’s technology was put at the center of those predictions. It would change the way we live on our cities. The progress would allows to live better on technologically designed cities, built form the ground to sky, and way up high.

What we actually see today is that although big cities like New York or Dubai sound more like the futurist visions, with their great skyscrapers with heliports on top of some buildings, they do not represent the majority of the city living in the 21st century. Actually, today’s favourite cities are some of the most grounded to the floor and true to their cultural roots. Lisbon is a perfect examples of that. 

Predictions on housing: 

Heterogeneous, creatively mobile and resource efficient.

In the 1920’s, futurists imagined us living in a house fully made of glass called Vitaglass, letting through the healthy rays of the sun. In the 1930’s, the 1934 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics saw our houses as spherical and mobile, allowing us to go anywhere. The idea was perceived as fashionable, distancing itself from a vision of us as hamsters. 

In the 1950’s, the 1953 Science Fiction Adventures magazine saw us living in spacial homes shaped like snow globes. Similarly in the 1960’s, the Mechanix Illustrated’s June 1957 issue indicated that by the 1990’s we would be living in what we call “rotating with the sun” houses, entirely made of glass.

Finally, an earlier vision by Jean-Marc Côté’s was actually less far away from our reality. In the artwork “House Rolling Through The Countryside” he depicted a mobile home in wheels. A form of housing that can actually be found in the lifestyle of humans today, very famous among minimalists.

What is does the actual housing look like?

Although the shape of our houses are not quite like the envisioned in the 20th century, the fundamentals of those predictions do match the way we are currently looking at housing: the past visions correctly predicted our need and current path to mobility, flexibility and resource efficiency in the way we live.

Our reality, as a co-living, perfectly matches those fundamentals – a lifestyle that actually exists since the 1970’s and is becoming more popular today.

How does it match? Today, the value of personal space and ownership in our younger generations is decreasing as they primarily value moving to the center of cities. Currently those cities are saturated and have limited land to grow as technology has not allowed us yet to layer our cities in height. Therefore, co-living becomes a viable solution since it allows people to move to the cities easily without moving their heavy homes in wheels or build new ones. 

The co-living lifestyle allows the co-liver to have homes everywhere and contribute for a more sustainable environment since he is sharing resources and not using extra land to live.

Nonetheless, this way of living also matches the predictions of improving relations between people, since the foundation of a co-living is its community, sharing communal spaces while having a private room.  

Thank you futurists of 1900’s for kinda predicting this lifestyle, we wouldn’t exist without it.

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