Friday, August 19, 2016

Tomorrowland, 1957

I have two excellent photos from Tomorrowland for you today! We'll start with this great shot of the Monsanto House of the Future when it was brand-new. It still looks wonderful, nearly 60 years later. I'm not sure if the designers considered this example to be full-sized, or if it was more of a "proof of concept", but I think that something like this might actually appeal to homeowners today if it was scaled up, perhaps 50% larger. Or twice as big, what the heck! Mid-century design is all the rage today, after all.

Are companies still trying to design efficient, sturdy, attractive, affordable houses these days? Or have they all given up, conceding that the general public wants a traditional home and not some crazy plastic mushroom?

Next is this nice view of the Tomorrowland Autopia load area as seen from the Skyway. Look out, the Richfield eagle is heading right toward us! The landscape isn't very... well, landscaped. It looks like the drought-parched front lawns of many SoCal homes that you'll see today.

Zooming in, we can see a pair of little girls at the wheel of a light blue vehicle. Now that I am paying attention, most of the cars are in shades of blue or green, so the tomato-red example really stands out.


Nanook said...


Speaking of mid-century - there're a whole bunch of fine examples of just such clothing on display, from all the colorful, patterned shirts, all the way up to that very colorful hat that seems to be a cross between a snood and a piñata. Olé-!

In spite of the "barren" landscaping, that Autopia image couldn't be more inviting - especially without a center rail-! I'm curious if the boy, kinda top-center, is laughing, and if so - at what...

Thanks, Major, for these great images.

Melissa said...

The landscape isn't very... well, landscaped. It looks like the drought-parched front lawns of many SoCal homes that you'll see today.

Well, back in 1957, today was the future! They got it right!

Totally agree with Nanook about the beautiful mid-century summer clothes. Love the crisp blue cotton dress of the girl in the foreground in the first picture.

They have that whole TV show now about people buying and moving into tiny homes. So maybe it's time for this design to have a comeback.

TokyoMagic! said...

I don't remember ever seeing those blue sunshades over the pathway or the stairs leading up to the House of the Future. And there is that wall that is still there today! Not the central support of the HOTF like some people mistakenly report, but the wall underneath the stairway. Of course, they'll probably bulldoze it tomorrow.

Chuck said...

Lots of stuff to love in the Autopia photo, but I think my favorite detail is the space station on the billboard. Remember when we had to build one of those - spinning to create artificial gravity - before we could get to the Moon?

Never occurred to me before, but what was inside the HOF's central support? Climate control equipment? An anchor? A dungeon made entirely of plastics? (Yes, you just heard that last question in Paul Frees' voice.)

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I keyed on that hat too. My take is it's a reverse babushka inspired by the colorful Disneyland merchandise bag. Either that or it's the world's most colorful dog food scoop.

It's all the manmade carbon emissions from those autopia cars causing the drought and wreaking havoc on the foliage. Couldn't be that it just hasn't had time to grow into the jungle of plant life it is now.

Great pictures anywho. Thanks for sharing.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I didn’t notice the hat, but now I am wondering if it was bought at one of the many souvenir stands around the park. If so, I’ve never seen one like it before. I think that “laughing boy” looks more like, “I’m gonna be sick!” boy.

Melissa, I occasionally watch YouTube videos about tiny houses; mostly I’m fascinated at the ways in which they use space so efficiently. Sometimes the little homes look surprisingly inviting, but where would I put all my Disneyland stuff?!

TokyoMagic!, I noticed the blue sunshades… I’ll bet they didn’t last very long under the hot Anaheim sunshine. I read that the HOTF wall was just bulldozed for Star Wars Land (kidding)!

Chuck, I can’t see one of those ring-shaped space stations without thinking of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The only mention I can find about what was supposed to be inside the central support was the heating (and cooling?) plant. Presumably a water heater would be down there as well, as well as a large supply of dehydrated Soylent Green.

Alonzo, Simone Biles cinched the gold medal in Rio by performing a perfect Reverse Babushka, I’m sure you saw it on TV. I’m guessing that this photo was shortly after one of the Autopia’s redos, so you’re right, it just hadn’t had time to mature and grow.

Tom said...

Wow! Wow and Wow! These are great. First of all, can't get enough of the HOF from any angle. Second, what the heck is on that woman's head? If you whack it will candy explode out? Third, I couldn't figure out why that teal couple would color their daughter's hair to match their clothes until I figured out the whole colored plastic sunshade thing overhead. Fourth, at the top of the stairs has an awesome shirt.

Great photos! May your supply never run out.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful pictures. I wish I remembered more of the HOF.

@Major, I think the HOF was intended as a single family prototype. Homes of that era were smaller and expectations lower. No need for a living room, family room, den, and media room. Kids shared bedrooms and baths etc. Not like that today.

Speaking from the center of the design industry, I have to report that no, there is no mass-manufacturer designing housing with the attributes you describe. Those values are more or less completely overshadowed by the builder's motive to make as much money as possible while providing the lowest quality product possible. Punitive codes and land use regulations make entitlements (permits) so expensive that there is nothing left in a minimal budget to build the structure with. In my area, permits and utility connection fees for a single family home run in excess of $150,000. That does not buy any physical structure to live in, just the permit.

Besides, the public has shown over and over that there is no market for "modern" style in entry-level housing. The more traditional, the better it sells, until you get well up in the higher reaches of cost. Most of the ultra-modern design we deal with start in 7-8 figures costs. "Modern" single-family is seen as "cheap" or worse, "Public Housing", and no one wants it until they are "post-economic" (rich).

Buildings like the HOF would end up as hobo housing, which we also desperately need. I passed three people sleeping in doorways this morning between my parking garage and my office, in a town where the median home price is over $650,000.


K. Martinez said...

Whenever I see pics of HOF, mobile home parks comes to mind. Perhaps it's the compact scale.

The barren landscape of the Autopia reminds me of driving Highway 1 through the beach dunes between Santa Cruz and Monterey. I find it very beautiful.

Nice set today. Thanks, Major.

Patrick Devlin said...

Nice shot of the Autopia in its wild and woolly phase. I just have to believe that some young punk with no sense of decorum managed to get his car to jump (or at least get on top of) the curbing. There are tire marks against the curbs, after all.

And can someone help with a just-surfaced memory? I remember the lead car in a group being boarded by a cast member when your lap was ending and controlling the car from a pedal alongside the running board and leaning in to steer for you. Also, the loading area looks like it used to have roomier spacing between loading stations. Trivial, I know...

Patrick Devlin said...

Of course, first I post and then I go look for any evidence. Daveland had
this picture of what I'm talking about. Phew. Thought I might have been senile there...

Chuck said...

Patrick - You definitely aren't senile. That's a common feature on many Autopia-style cars (we used to call them "kiddie cars") at amusement parks. I can remember that at Cedar Point and at several Six Flags parks, on both their antique and "modern" cars. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the ride - I thought it was so cool that you could jump up on the running board and control the car from the outside.

Anonymous said...

HOTF even had its own "falling water" fountains / landscape flowing beneath. Sob. Plenty of open-plan space inside. Kids room? Ha, try "Disneyland display parlor"! Perfection. BTW, I Love how it sat there, neighboring a castle, while a mountain moved in, and Tomorrow came and went from its doorstep, like The Time Machine, just waiting for the age of the morlock....soon erupting from the rocky grounds nearby? Oh oh, now a Marvel comic.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, I just now went back and looked at the hat that you were talking about. It looks like one of those elementary school art projects where we took the tissue paper squares, twisted them on the end of a pencil, dipped them in glue and applied them to an Easter basket or a picture we had drawn. Or as you mentioned.....a piñata!

Major Pepperidge said...

Tom, I’m glad you liked these! It’s funny, I would think that nicer photos would be the thing that GDB readers really like, but often they get less interest than some oddball post. Go figure! I wish I could see that guy’s shirt a little better, it almost looks like there are human figures on it.

JG, wow, I had no idea that JUST the permits and lot run so high. My brother lives in San Jose, and he says that nobody is building single-family homes anymore (except for the super rich, of course) because it is just too expensive. Even in L.A. it seems as “mixed use” living situations have become the trendy thing among younger folks - retail on the ground level, condos or apartments above. It’s not a terrible idea, except that so many historic buildings are being razed for mixed use eyesores. And I am sure that you are right, people want a traditional home with a yard and a picket fence; they don’t want to live in a Henry Moore sculpture!

K. Martinez, mobile home parks have never come to mind in my case. Most of those looks so seedy, though I have seen some comparatively nice ones. The trees and waterfalls make so much differnce.

Patrick Devlin, I believe that Autopia cars STILL have that external brake feature - I seem to recall noticing the cast members stoping on a pedal that stuck out of the side as cars came into the load area. I’m guessing that the addition of the center rail eliminated the need for a roomier load area.

Patrick Devlin, I guess I am somehow not seeing evidence of the external brake you were talking about?

Chuck, it’s funny, as kids we all looked at the people running the attractions as the coolest people, when in fact they were probably bored to tears!

Anonymous, I really do find the design of the interior of the HOTF to be very appealing. Small of course, but these days even a small home would be better than NO home. The only thing I’ve noticed is that it is assumed that people don’t have STUFF. Where are the roomy closets? Where can I display my complete collection of Hummel figurines (including “Alpine Shepherd Boy”)? Where does Dad keep his golf clubs? I love your “Time Machine” analogy!

TokyoMagic!, oh, Mr. Fancy, with his twisted tissue paper and glue appliqué art projects! We were given a bowl full of mud and a popsicle stick.

Nanook said...

And, PLEASE... don't forget the Prang, powdered tempera paint and Vano starch-!

Dean Finder said...

This Popular Science article explains that the support pillar would hold utilities, and a bigger house could be assembled from multiple sections of the HoF

Anonymous said...

@Major, the 150,000 does not include the land either. Just intangible permits.

I consulted on a big home in Santa Clara county, only minutes from DT San Jose, the environmental work and permits ran over $1,000,000.00 (One Million Dollars) including professional fees, governmental permits, wildlife and vegetation studies, civil engineering and hydrology, before construction start.

Again, no land, no buildings, no roads or sewers, just intangible permits for a single-family dwelling.