Meet George Jetson

Remember The Jetsons? If you grew up in the sixties, how could you forget them? The Hanna-Barbera cartoon premiered on prime-time television in September 1962 and brought the fantasies of the Space Age into our living rooms. Flying cars, computers, robot maids, pills for lunch and office buildings on poles were the stuff the Jetson's world was made of.

Did you think that was just a cartoon? Well it wasn't! There once existed a real-life Orbit City in our midst. It was the Space Age extravaganza called the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair. There has never been and never will be a more Jetson-esque world on display as what could be found on the 646 acres of Flushing Meadows Park in the Borough of Queens, New York in 1964 and 1965.

We called those years "The Space Age." It was a time when we were in the middle of a Space Race with the Russians to see who could put the first man on the moon and we were fighting a Cold War with the evils of Communism. While technological advances were exploding all around us our world was turning topsy-turvy with an increasingly unpopular war in Southeast Asia, political assassinations and civil unrest at home. Over it all hung the threat that we'd be blown to smithereens in a nuclear holocaust if someone accidentally pushed the button and the Cold War suddenly got very hot! Is it any wonder that we imagined a future of limitless promise?

And what promise it promised to be! How about a vacation in an underwater hotel? How about a Rocket Pack that lets you fly above the traffic? How about a machine that makes disposable dishes on-the-spot so that you'd never have to wash one again? How about abundant nuclear fuel? How about a monorail to whisk you from place to place? All of these marvels and so much more were on display at the Fair. General Motors' Futurama told us that they were "beyond the promise and well on their way to tomorrow's world." Our future was going to be terrific.

Well, if you blinked you missed it. It all ended in 1965. Orbit City was demolished and turned into a park. The fantastic promises of The Space Age faded into amusing anecdotes as our society became more aware of the dark side of technology. Worries about nuclear accidents made abundant nuclear fuel a fearsome thing. Monorails never overcame the popularity of the automobile. Rocket Packs were too heavy, too noisy and gas guzzlers too boot! We worried about filling up our landfill with disposable diapers - where would we landfill all those dirty disposable dishes? Underwater hotels … well they were too expensive to build, too elitist to occupy and too damp to enjoy anyway.

nywf64.com is my chance to share with you a look back at The Space Age on display at the Fair where we could escape the troubles of "today" and explore the wonders of the "near tomorrow." If you're visiting for the first time, welcome! If you're a repeat visitor, welcome back! As nywf64.com celebrates its thirteenth year on-line, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have contributed materials to this World's Fair tribute over the years. You have made the glance backwards more enjoyable by sharing your collectibles and stories with all who come here.

YOU really have become George Jetson you know. Think about that! Maybe you're not living in an apartment on a pole like his Space Age family did and you don't have Rosie the Robot to help the kids with their homework, but your world is filled with Space Age marvels like computers and microwaves and webcams, all things displayed and predicted in one way or another by the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.

Critics to this day say that the fanciful predictions of the Fair made it somehow less worthy than other Fairs whose technological predictions proved to be more accurate. Fair President Robert Moses used to call such nay-sayers "grumblers, antiseptics and jaundiced-eyed grouches!" The Fair entertained. It educated. It offered the world hope for a brighter tomorrow during some very dark and scary times in history. Here's to the Fair … celebrating 50 years since it's opening! We still have a future of limitless promise.

Welcome to The Space Age, George Jetson!

Bill Young
April 22, 2017 - Our 17th year online!

 

All The Jetsons illustrations are © Copyright Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and presented here strictly for illustrative purposes

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