September 10, 2012
When we look at visions of the future from the 20th century we often imagine the lone inventor or solitary artist concocting the fantastical world of tomorrow in isolation. But it’s amazing how frequently both government regulation and the lack of regulation can influence the future of a given city in ways we don’t often think about.
While researching a column I wrote recently for BBC Future about fighting the skyscraper fires of tomorrow I came across a fascinating anti-skyscraper law from 1912 that would have a lasting impact on Australia’s largest city. Fearing that fighting fires was nearly impossible in tall buildings, Sydney passed the Height of Buildings Act of 1912, limiting new buildings to just 150 feet tall. As a result Sydney spent almost half a century growing predominantly outward rather than skyward.
A July, 1901 fire in an 8-story department store building had left five people dead–prompting concern among the residents of Sydney, where modern architecture was quickly sprouting toward the heavens. Firefighters were helpless to reach a young man who clung desperately out of a window in the building 120 feet up. Sadly, firefighters could do nothing to help save the poor man who was well out of reach from their tallest 80 foot ladders. He jumped to his death in front of a lunchtime crowd of horrified onlookers.
Sydney’s skyscraper debate would rage for a decade, coming to a head in 1911 when a record 6,503 new private buildings (many of them taller than ever before) were built in Sydney. The city’s tallest building was completed the very next year in 1912. That building was called the Culwulla Chambers and rose to just 14 stories (165 feet). But it sparked a serious debate about the future of the city and the safety of its inhabitants. How could the people of Sydney be kept safe when skyscrapers inevitably faces the threat of fire and no one had the technical capacity to put it out?
As Alex Roberts and Pat O’Malley note in their 2011 research paper, “Skyscrapers, Fire and the City: Building Regulation in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Sydney,” politicians in 1912 were concerned as much with safety and international reputation as they were with aesthetics when they passed the Height of Buildings Act in 1912. Aside from limiting the construction of new buildings to just 150 feet tall, the Act also states that any building built above 100 feet must show that “adequate provision has been made in respect of such building for protection against fire.” The Act wasn’t amended until 1957.
Today, Sydney is a beautiful modern city with a stunning skyline. But one wonders what the city would look like had vertical growth continued unabated, or the 1912 law had remained in effect after 1957.
September 6, 2012
Futurist thinkers have rarely been kind to New York City. In fact, writers and artists have spent the better part of two centuries destroying the Big Apple. Whether by flood or fire, nuclear explosion or alien invasion, New York more than any other city bears the brunt of our most apocalyptic futures. And perhaps no historian understands this better than Max Page.
In 2001, University of Massachusetts-Amherst history professor Max Page started work on what was supposed to be a fun, light-hearted project. Working with the New York Historical Society, Page was assembling an exhibit proposal about the various ways New York had been destroyed in various works of fiction. He put the finishing touches on his proposal on September 10, 2001. Of course, the very next day real world terrorists would put some of futurism’s most horrific visions of destruction to shame.
Years later, Page realized that his exploration of apocalyptic New York was still a worthwhile endeavor — it would simply require a more reverent touch. His book, The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction was published in 2008.
I reached Mr. Page by phone and asked him what it is about New York City. Why New York? Why not Chicago, Los Angeles, Des Moines, Tulsa… what is it about New York that compels us to see it destroyed in fiction over and over again?
“It’s interesting because there are disaster fantasies about lots of different places. Los Angeles has got its share, especially in the film world of the 20th century. And there’s fantasies of Paris and London and Tokyo, of course. What I was struck with is that New York has remained the predominant focus for literally close to two centuries,” Page said.
“It came to be the symbol of the city — not just the American city, but the city itself — with skyscrapers in the early 20th century. It remains the most important American city despite the rise of Chicago at one point, and Los Angeles and D.C. At least for economics and for culture, New York is still the capital and has been, really from the 1830s onward,” he said. As an Angeleno, I’m reluctantly inclined to agree with him.
“And then, there’s the simple aesthetics. Destruction looks better in New York.” Perhaps this is the real clincher. Aesthetically, New York is a gorgeous city; a city of steel and glass reaching toward the sky in a decidedly 20th century American ode to modernism. But the destruction of New York almost always has a purpose, political or otherwise. It’s rarely just a jangling of the keys distraction or traditional disaster movie extravagance like in the screenshot from the 1998 film Deep Impact above.
Take, for instance, the 1890 novel Caesar’s Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century by Ignatius Donnelly. The story takes place in the futuristic world of 1988 and New York is destroyed by a terrorist/”liberation” group called the Brotherhood of Destruction. In this case, the destruction is political and hateful, as Donnelly’s anti-semitism is apparent when the Brotherhood states its purpose of destroying a Jewish-led oligarchy that controls every aspect of New York life.
From Caesar’s Column: “The shops had all been broken into; dead bodies lay here and there; and occasionally a burned block lifted its black arms appealing to heaven. As we drew near Union Square a wonderful sight — such as the world had never before beheld — expanded before us. Great blazing bonfires lighted the work; hundreds of thousands had gathered to behold the ghastly structure, the report of which had already spread everywhere.”
The past two centuries have seen New York destroyed in an almost cyclical manner. Fire, flood, monsters, revolution, aliens, rinse, repeat. But there is one method of destroying New York that only saw rise in the mid-20th century: the nuclear bomb.
Max Page explains to me the unique method of destruction brought by new technology as distinct from the more historically relatable stories of floods: “The climate change film in 2004, The Day After Tomorrow, that is partly about a flood. And then we have flood stories back in the teens and we have flood stories back in the late 19th century. Obviously some things, like nuclear disaster, is one of the main methods that obviously relied on new technology.”
This new technology was on spectacular display in the pages of Collier’s magazine in the 1950s. As I’ve written about before, the August 5, 1950 cover of Collier’s displayed in vivid detail a haunting mushroom cloud over Manhattan. The accompanying article, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, gives a breathless account of an Associated Press reporter on any-given-Tuesday who is trying to learn about the devastating destruction of New York City.
The uncomfortable fact is that there’s something almost beautiful about these horrific visions. Divorced of the real world pain and suffering, we’re drawn to the most powerful weapon in the futurist’s arsenal — naked, unapologetic spectacle. In fact, I have that Hiroshima issue of Collier’s framed in my apartment right next to a mid-1960s nuclear power propaganda pamphlet called “The Atom, Electricity and You.” It may be an achingly obvious joke about the conflict between our fear and hope in futuristic technology, but even stripped of context these images are somehow objectively beautiful in their scale, aesthetic and hubris.
Reveling in destruction is, of course, a rather macabre affair. Made all the more unseemly when such fantastic, unbelievable devastation has reached our shores. But we can’t help it. Watching the destruction of the Twin Towers was surreal, but not unimaginable. And of course we couldn’t look away. I remember turning on the television on September 11th and seeing surreal images of the first Tower smoldering, while CNN talked with Tom Clancy over the phone. His 1994 novel Debt of Honor included a character who flew a commercial plane into the U.S. Capitol building. Life was somehow imitating the darkest of art.
Max Page explains, “That day [on September 11, 2001] we had the sense that we had seen this already in a movie.”
Indeed we had. And we’ll likely see it again in movies, TV and books for many generations to come.
July 19, 2012
Last week Geeta Dayal over at Wired published portions of a very cool 32-page program for the 1927 futuristic film Metropolis. The program is for sale at a rare book shop in London and seeing the blog post reminded me of an article in one of my magazines from 1927. It took me a little while to find (most of my archive is a terribly disorganized mess) but I finally found the magazine I was looking for — the June 1927 issue of Science and Invention.
The magazine featured a two-page spread titled, ”Metropolis—A Movie Based On Science,” with photographs and illustrations depicting how the movie’s cutting-edge effects were achieved. The use of miniatures, sparks of electricity with forced perspective and television-telephones are all explained in illustrations credited to “Bate.”
The creation of Metropolis and its many versions is a fascinating story. Director Fritz Lang‘s original cut of Metropolis was a financial flop and appeared in German theaters for only four months before it was pulled and recut. The film premiered in Germany but was actually released to American theaters before it received a wide German release. Strangely, American audiences never saw Fritz Lang’s edit of the film, since Paramount (the film’s American distributor) preemptively edited their version of the film. If you get a chance, I highly recommend that you check out the 2010 documentary Voyage to Metropolis, about the many different versions of this film and its ultimate restoration in 2008 to an “original” version after the discovery of an old 16mm version of the film in Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires version is believed to be the closest to the original, with over 25 minutes more than any previously known edit, and Metropolis was released theatrically in 2010 with these additional (if badly scratched) scenes added. I got to see the new cut two summers ago when it screened in Minneapolis and it really is gorgeous.
Just as different versions of this film are constantly resurfacing all around the world, I suspect different promotional materials — be they programs, magazines articles or movie posters — will continue to captivate historians and film fans hoping to learn more about how this classic piece of futurism was originally filmed and promoted. In the case of this Science and Invention article the film was promoted to an audience interested in how science would be used in movie effects of the future.
The illustration above, which shows the use of miniatures in the Metropolis city of tomorrow, is explained in the magazine spread:
The miniature set which was used in the filming of this remarkable motion picture. Toy trains and automobiles were pulled along the bridges by means of wires. The airplanes were suspended by a wire which was pulled by an operator outside of the set. At times full size lower stories were used, the image of the upper stories being reflected in a mirror to blend with them.
The magazine explained right down to the voltage how sparks were produced, creating a dystopian atmosphere for those working. In order to make the giant coils on the right appear to have sparks jumping between them, forced perspective was used with the sparks little more than a couple of feet in front of the camera.
The effect of sparks jumping about the machines was produced by placing a small high frequency apparatus near the camera as shown above. In the finished picture the sparks seemed to jump from the two huge coils placed on either side of the mechanism.
The illustration above explains how the magnificent glowing effects were produced using electricity and Geissler tubes.
The spectacular scene in the scientist’s laboratory. A weird effect was obtained by forcing compressed air through a closed tube containing liquid and illuminated by a lamp placed at the bottom.
Also discussed is the television phone. As the illustration above shows, a movie projector is used to make it appear as if two people are having a conversation. We’ve looked at the evolving definition of television many times on this blog, and it’s interesting to see that this article uses the term “television apparatus,” without mentioning the word telephone once. Before television was ever realized as a broadcast medium (and it would be decades after Metropolis was released), television was often envisioned as a point-to-point rather than broadcast technology.
Of course the city of the future would have all the inventions of which we dream today. The recently perfected television apparatus, is in common use. By using it, those who converse may also at the same time see the other party.
The illustration above shows, “A sectional view of ‘Metropolis,’ the city of the future,” with the Capitalist’s City above, power production rooms in the middle and the Workmen’s Underground Homes below.
The article illustrates how actors were moved through, “The maw of the huge machine which ruthlessly destroys body and soul.”
The illustration above shows how the “concentric rings of light which played about the manikin were hand operated” and gave the illusion that they were floating.
The last illustration in the two-page spread shows the destruction of the “Workman’s City,” which is again shot in miniature.
A small set was used and water, forced through pipes, was directed through the sides of the buildings and down from above. Pipes placed at street level ejected water in a geyser-like effect.
Aesthetically, Metropolis went on to influence countless other films about the future — from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, to the design of the robot C3PO in the Star Wars franchise.
June 15, 2012
Before I moved to Los Angeles (almost 2 years ago now) I had never heard the word Googie. In fact, when a friend — a native Californian — used the term I initially thought it must have something to do with Google. I didn’t know the word, but I definitely knew the style. And I suspect you might too.
Googie is a modern (ultramodern, even) architectural style that helps us understand post-WWII American futurism — an era thought of as a “golden age” of futurist design for many here in the year 2012. It’s a style built on exaggeration; on dramatic angles; on plastic and steel and neon and wide-eyed technological optimism. It draws inspiration from Space Age ideals and rocketship dreams. We find Googie at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Space Needle in Seattle, the mid-century design of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, in Arthur Radebaugh‘s postwar illustrations, and in countless coffee shops and motels across the U.S.
Googie is an odd word; a funny word; a word that feels like it’s doing a few vowel-drenched laps around your tongue before finally flopping out of your mouth. Oddly enough, Googie was used as a deragatory term almost from the start — born in Southern California and named for a West Hollywood coffee shop designed in 1949 by John Lautner, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Architecture critic Douglas Haskell was the first to use “Googie” to describe the architectural movement, after driving by the West Hollywood coffee shop and finally feeling like he had found a name for this style that was flourishing in the postwar era.
But Haskell was no fan of Googie and wrote a scathing (by architecture critic standards) satire of the style in the February 1952 issue of House and Home magazine. The New York-based Haskell wrote part of his article, “Googie Architecture,” in the voice of a fictional Professor Thrugg, whose over-the-top praise was an indictment of Googie’s popular appeal. Haskell was an advocate of modernism, but a modernism constrained by his ideas of taste and refinement. Haskell, writing sarcastically as Professor Thrugg:
“You underestimate the seriousness of Googie. Think of it! — Googie is produced by architects, not by ambitious mechanics, and some of these architects starve for it. After all, they are working in Hollywood, and Hollywood has let them know what it expects of them.”
Haskell’s disdain for Googie was clearly rooted in his hatred for the flourishes and perceived tackiness of Hollywood.
Perhaps no one has studied Googie and its relationship to mid-20th century futurism more closely than Alan Hess: an architect, historian and the author of Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture (2004) and Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture (1985). I spoke with Mr. Hess by phone at his home in Irvine, California.
“Googie started after WWII as a definable style and it caught on fire in the culture and lasted for a good 25 years or so,” Hess says.
Googie is undeniably the super-aesthetic of 1950s and ’60s American retro-futurism — a time when America was flush with cash and ready to deliver the technological possibilities that had been promised during WWII. “I really feel that Googie made the future accessible to everyone,” Hess says. As he explains it, Googie was an unpretentious aesthetic meant to appeal to the average, middle-class American: ”One of the key things about Googie architecture was that it wasn’t custom houses for wealthy people — it was for coffee shops, gas stations, car washes, banks… the average buildings of everyday life that people of that period used and lived in. And it brought that spirit of the modern age to their daily lives.”
Hess insists that Googie was a realization of the future rather than simply a promise of things to come. “Since the 19th century and Jules Verne — coming up into the 1920s and 1930s — there had been these future-oriented movies and novels and so forth which looked to the future with great promise,” Hess says. “But after WWII, a lot of that promise was actually fulfilled not only in the buildings but also the automobiles that the average American used during that time. I really feel it did not only capture the future, but it brought it in a meaningful way to people. And you see this interest in these futuristic ideas not only in architecture or car design but in cartoons like The Jetsons and places like amusements parks like Disneyland’s Tomorrowland — in advertisements, in magazines, and so forth, certainly in the movies as well. So this interest, this intrigue, this appeal of living in the future just went all across the culture.”
Googie was born in southern California and much like the billboard scene here, owes some of its popularity to something very practical: driving in a car causes you to miss a lot of commercial activity. Which is to say, businesses want your attention, so they need to stand out through increased size and a certain degree of weirdness. As Philip Langdon notes in his 1986 book Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants, the laissez-faire expanse of California freeways contributed to the rise of Googie:
California, unlike eastern and midwestern states, did not build toll roads and make travelers captive to restaurants that had been commissioned to operate at designated rest stops. California was the land of the freeway, with the choice to eat at competing restaurants at one interchange after another, so the restaurants’ need for a conspicuous profile was especially intense. The question confronting restaurant operators by the late fifties was: What would catch the eye of fast-moving motorists?
Hess elaborates on the experimental spirit of postwar Los Angeles: “Yes, it really did start in Southern California, though it was a national phenomenon. Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, all of these areas also had Googie architecture. But Los Angeles — because it was one of the fastest growing cities at that time — had a tradition of experimental modern architecture. So the seeds of it were in Los Angeles.”
The 1962-63 version of The Jetsons was so dripping with Googie that you could argue Hanna-Barbera didn’t really exaggerate the style — they copied it. Googie at its most flamboyant and cartoonish is almost beyond parody. And it’s pretty clear that the artists behind The Jetsons were inspired by the style that surrounded them in Southern California.
The artists and animators working on The Jetsons really didn’t need to drive too far to become inspired by the Googie of Los Angeles. The Hanna-Barbera Studio was in Hollywood at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd (I think it’s the site of an LA Fitness now) and buildings all across Los Angeles in the late 1950s and early 1960s screamed Googie. The Los Angeles International Airport had (and still has) the Googie-tastic Theme Building, featured in the October 19 1962 issue of Life magazine — a special issue devoted completely to Americans’ mid-century fascination with California. Ship’s coffee shop opened in 1958 at 10877 Wilshire Blvd, just south of UCLA. Pann’s, my personal favorite breakfast spot in L.A. (try the biscuits and gravy, seriously), is at 6710 La Tijera Boulevard. Hanna-Barbera was also just a short drive from Anaheim, where you could see the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland, which opened in 1957. And of course there was the streamlined, Space Age version of Disneyland’s early-’60s Tomorrowland.
The future had arrived for those in Southern California and it was a symbol of even greater things to come. From Hess’s 1985 book Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture:
Los Angeles in the 1950s was a modern city. The opportunities of the postwar boom in the freedom of Los Angeles allowed architects ranging from John Lautner to Richard Neutra full rein in a new phase of Modernism. The optimistic exploration of materials and structures for the new age continued. But as widely publicized as were Lautner’s Silvertop, or the series of Case Study houses sponsored by Arts and Architecture magazine, or other high art buildings, they were only a fraction of the architecture that filled tracts and lined commercial strips. The roadside buildings gave anyone driving Los Angeles streets the sense that this was indeed a new era, that the long-promised future of benevolent technology and prosperity had at last arrived to deliver the good life to all.
But by 1970, Hess says the architectural culture had changed. ”The interest in the future, the gee-whiz factor about plastics and nuclear power and space flight, travel to the moon, all of these things that had been new and exciting in the 1950s had become more mundane — we landed on the moon in 1969 and then it was over. And also at that time new ideas came in — specifically the ecology movement which began to say that we do have limits on how we can use our resources. And an interest in more lower-scale, residential, traditional, architecture came into fashion. You see this transition in tastes in popular culture I think most vividly in the change of the McDonald’s prototype. In 1953 the prototype was Googie all the way — it was bright, shiny, bold colors, big arches, very dynamic upswept roof, neon, etc…”
“But in the late-1960s,” Hess says, “McDonald’s introduced a new prototype which used brick as its walls and a mansard roof — a very traditional form. McDonald’s felt that it would appeal to their customers at this time, and it did. Those are some of the reasons why Googie eventually faded as a popular style. But then of course it’s ressurected as a popular style in the last 20 years or so.”
The style known as Googie, in fact, has many names. It’s sometimes known as Populuxe, and in some circles is just considered modern architecture. But it seems to me most fitting to call the style by the term used by its most famous detractor. Googie is both the future we long for and the future we never asked for.
So we tip our hats to the believers and non-believers alike — both Lautner and Haskell and all the other weirdos of the mid-20th century, jostling for their own vision of our American landscape. These beautiful, bizarre competing visions of our future — or our future that never was.
Update: A transcription error originally quoted Hess describing a “mansford” roof rather than a mansard roof.
Image credits in order of appearance:
- The Theme Building at LAX by Todd Lapin (2010)
- Googie’s Coffee Shop Menu from Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture by Alan Hess
- Ship’s Coffee Shop from Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture by Alan Hess
- Huddle’s Cloverfield from Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture by Alan Hess
- Jetsons house taken as a screenshot from the DVD release
- Disneyland’s Monsanto House of the Future from the Library of Congress
- Pann’s Restaurant by Matt Novak (2011)
- Lyon’s Coffee Shop from Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture by Alan Hess
- The two McDonald’s photos are from the Orange Roofs, Golden Arches by Philip Langdon
June 6, 2012
From the vantage point of 2012 we often associate flying cars with the slick, Jetsonian ideas of the 1950s and ’60s. But predictions of futuristic flying cars buzzing over major American cities are actually about as old as the automobile itself.
The May 1923 issue of Science and Invention featured a two-wheeled flying car that was supposed to be the answer to New York City’s congested streets. Called the “Helicar,” it was stabilized by gyroscopes and operated by a push-button control panel rather than an old-fashioned steering wheel. The Helicar is built of the “lightest materials” available and enclosed in an “unbreakable, unburnable, glasslike substance.” (Its streamlined design actually reminds me a bit of this futuristic auto from 1918.)
The Helicar was dreamt up by none other than the father of modern science fiction, Hugo Gernsback. In February 1904, at the tender age of 19, Gernsback moved to New York from Luxembourg and became intimately familiar with New York City’s busy streets. As cars got larger in the 1920s, Gernsback argued that there was no choice but to give tomorrow’s automobiles the option to soar above the city.
The automobile, as it is built now, tends to become larger and larger. The car of today is fully three times as large as the car of 25 years ago. In our large cities overcrowding, due to the tremendous number of automobiles, has now reached the saturation point. New York City is about to enact a law to eliminate a certain number of taxicabs, which now crowd the streets to such an extent that it is impossible to make any time at all in certain sections of the city. If you really wish to move rapidly, you have to take the subway or the elevated railway. This condition exists in most large cities. It has been proposed to build viaducts over the house tops, but due to the high cost it is doubtful if such a plan will ever become a fact, even in a time remote from now.
The article included a photograph of a Rolls-Royce from 1923, giving retro-futurists of the 2010s a handy perspective on what the top-of-the-line car looked like 90 years ago.
Gernsback believed that the only “practical solution” to New York’s traffic problem was the Helicar, which he predicted to to be in use by 1973. What’s somewhat astounding is that by 1923 the helicopter hadn’t even proven itself as a practical reality yet!
The only practical solution is to combine the automobile with an airplane and this no doubt will happen during the next few decades. The Helicopter Automobile or, for short, the helicar, will not take up very much more room than the present large 7-passenger automobile, nor will it weigh much more than our present-day car, but instead of rolling down the avenue, you will go straight up in the air, and follow the air traffic lines, then descend at any place you wish. This descent can be made in the middle of the street, if necessary. The car may roll through the street, and may rise in an open place, or square, of which there will be many in the future.
While it will be possible for a car to alight on the ground in a narrow street, traffic regulations may prohibit this, and the aerial ascent and descent will be made from these public squares or parks. The Helicar will be particularly useful for suburbanites to fly to and from work, and for pleasure. Even today our roads, whether they be suburban or country, are so clogged with traffic that it is impossible to get anywhere on time.
Later, Gernsback makes note of the helicopter’s questionable success in the early 1920s:
The important part is the propelling mechanism to drive the car in the air. There have been many helicopters designed so far, but up to date nothing really trustworthy has been evolved. It may be quite possible that the helicopter of the future will look entirely different from what we have pictured in our illustration. It is quite possible that no blades will be used, but rather a form of an open drum, similar to the turbine. We have been satisfied to show in our illustration the usual propellor, which is collapsible, so that when the car runs as an automobile, it will not obstruct traffic, nor will it catch the air.
The other peculiar element to the car—having two wheels, instead of four—is explained by Gernsback as making sense for a number of different reasons. Perhaps, the least compelling of which is that bicycles have just two wheels!
It will be noted that only two wheels are used. Two wheels are more economical than four. There is less trouble with gears and shafts, and this construction decreases the weight of the car as well. A gyroscope keeps the car in an upright position at all times, and makes riding on two wheels perfectly safe.
Two-wheel vehicles are not new, as witness the bicycle. The famous Englishman, Brennan, has already tried them out, and there will be no reason for using four wheels in the future.
In 1909, Gernsback opened the world’s first store specializing in radio at 69 West Broadway and pretty much all of his futuristic inventions from the 1910s and ’20s included some role for radio. Number 8 on the diagram below is described as a radio for transmitting and receiving messages. You may recall that in the early 1920s radio was still in its infancy as a broadcast medium, so it’s unlikely those passengers are listening to something like the 1923 hit song, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.”
Perhaps the most depressing element of this article for those of us in the year 2012 (who are still largely driving cars that run on fossil fuels), is that Gernsback believed that we’d probably be off gasoline by the year 1973.
In our illustration we have shown a gasoline engine as the driving agent for the Helicar. There is no reason why a gasoline engine should be employed. Perhaps by that time we will be extracting electricity from the air, and merely use an electric motor to run the car, or we may even approach the point where the wireless transmission of energy will be a proven fact.
The article included an illustration of the flying Helicar in action (above). I’ve added my own yellow numbers, because the original letters are a bit hard to read at this size.
(1) — Push button power control board before driver, which also switches power to helicopter drive shaft (3), and blades (9), when it is desired to fly.
(2) — Steering wheel.
(3) — Helicopter drive shaft.
(4) — Gyroscope for stabilizing car on two wheels.
(5) — Twelve cylinder gasoline engine driving large dynamo (6), which supplies electric current to motor within rear wheel, (13).
(6) — Dynamo (electrical generator).
(7) — Storage battery for engine and radio receiving and transmitting set, (8).
(8) — Radio set.
(9) — Collapsible helicopter blades. (Note: Engine driven.)
(10) — Powerful electric lamps and reflectors for flying purposes.
(11) — Elevating wings controlled by driver, used in ascending or descending, as well as tail, (12).
(12) — Helicopter tail.
(13) — Electric motor wheel, which drives the car along the road when not in the air.
(14) — Motor driven spur wheels which can be lowered to assist in propelling the car out of icy spots.
(15) — Collapsible steps.
(16) — Fender.
(17) — Electric headlight used when running on road.