These Magnificent Paintings Of 'The Future' From 70 Years Ago Got Everything Hopelessly Wrong

Bohn train

Photo: Retronaut

Today, the future is depicted in pop culture as a dystopian nightmare of zombies, killer robots and reality TV shows where children fight to the death.It was not always so. In the early 20th century, the future was regarded with optimism and hope.

The Bohn aluminium & Brass Company produced dozens of futuristic ads in the 1940s, each one promoting the notion that technology would transport us into a society of ease and leisure … and rockets.

Rockets, and the fact that we’d all be using them to get from A to B, were a big thing for Bohn.

Rockets weren’t the only thing that Bohn got wrong. Three-story high milk-trucks, plastic bridges, snowploughs that looked like sea-monsters — almost nothing of Bohn’s vision came to pass.

The company’s ads are still beautiful to look at, however.

Bohn made light alloys, and was convinced that this would lead to the creation of gigantic three-deck rocket planes.

This rocket plane has five decks.

Plenty of legroom here, even in economy class.

Notice that in the 1940s, Bohn believed public transport was America's future.

This car doesn't have rear-view mirrors.

Here's another car with no rear visibility.

It's not clear how this super-long fire engine was supposed to turn corners.

The turning issue was even more extreme on this gigantic milk-tanker truck.

Check out the propeller on the front of this monorail.

Yes, Bohn really proposed that roads be built right through existing skyscrapers.

Look closely -- those are hover-trains.

Here's Bohn's plastic bridge.

The ads were drawn by Arthur Radebaugh.

He devoted the bulk of his career to illustrating the future.

You can see 'Closer Than We Think' here.

Radebaugh was born in 1906 and died in 1974.

This tractor omits the one thing all tractors need to function -- high clearance between the wheels.

It's not clear how this snow plow was supposed to actually plow snow.

In Bohn's designs, the decks on planes, trains and boats are all incredibly high.

The company doesn't seem to have understood the economics of transport, which require efficient use of space.

Bohn was eventually acquired by Gulf & Western. Its Detroit HQ was demolished in 1981.

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