Magic Highway USA shows what might have been

Here’s a portion of an episode from the 1958 Disney TV show titled “Magic Highway USA” that looks at the future through transportation advancements. It portrays a centrally designed, controlled, world where slums and poverty are nowhere to be found, and work only occurs in office buildings.

The video has received hundreds of comments, and no wonder: the future never looked so good, or so bad. Some write that the world portrayed will never come to pass; others think much of it already has. Some of the technology itself is already passe. If nothing else, the inherent optimism disappeared long ago.

The narrator intones, “The shape of our cities will change, as expanded highway transportation decentralizes our population centers into vast urban areas. With the advent of faster expressways, the commuter’s radius will be extended many miles.

But just as the founders of the Lincoln Highway dreamed of a straight boulevard across the country within their own mostly rural context, the predictors here never saw the complications or drawbacks of their dream world. Indeed, postwar suburbia brought Interstates and decentralized population, but it quickly was derided as sprawl, not celebrated.

Also, the futurists who wrote the show had no idea gender roles would evolve, or that computers would infiltrate all aspects of life. Technological advances are only a small part of the evolving world. Like most predictions, the video has become an interesting relic of its own era.

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One thought on “Magic Highway USA shows what might have been

  1. Thanks to whoever found this and posted it. I’ve heard of this show and this prompted me to go on a search. I can’t find the full version of the show for sale–probably because it isn’t for sale! Does anyone know where I might possibly find a tape or DVD of this episode. It is a true treasure for any LH fan!

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