GM's 'Tomorrow-Land' at the 1964 World's Fair

This 1965 NatGeo ad for GM's "Tomorrow-Land" exhibit at the 1964 World's Fair makes me go all dribbly for a time-machine: "You can look over GM's exciting 'idea' cars -- Firebird IV with television, stereo, game table, refrigerator; GM-X with jet aircraft cockpit and controls--fascinating design and engineering innovations right out of tomorrow. You'll take a ride that is wrapped in wonders . . . through the metropolis of the future, over Antarctic wastes, into tropical jungles, along the ocean floor."




  1. There are some good things to be said for being old. Having visited the 1964 World’s Fair is one of them. On the other had, I grew up playing in a bomb shelter.

  2. Adam Curtis’ documentary “The Century of the Self” kind of talks of this Tomorrow Land for a moment and how its concept was created by psychologist specially contracted by GM to create a car-based society. It is really worth watching it, even though there are 4 episodes of 1h each.

  3. I rode that ride. The giant road building robot that had lasers cutting down trees in front of it and a 16 lane elevated freeway extruded out the back as it moved through the rain forest at night left a lasting impression, but doesn’t seem to be in the film linked to above.

  4. re #1: That was my thought as well.


  5. I don’t remember much about the ’64 Fair, other than fighting with my sister on the long drive to NYC and the picturephones. And this pavilion, which is one of the few we fought the crowds to get into. Odd that GM and Soylent Green had the same slogan.

  6. Tomorrow Land – as in, “Tomorrow GM is going to buy all of the electric trolley companies and replace these with buses and six-lane highways. Now go buy a fracking car!”

  7. You may not need a time machine -at least for part of it.

    The Unisphere from the fair is still in NYC as well as some towers (I forget what they were for). Both were featured in Men In Black. A guy jet packed over the Unisphere during the fair which was very cool for a young lad of 10 to see being right in the middle of the Space Age and all.

    A bunch of other 64-65 World’s Fair exhibits ended up at Disneyworld which was new and needed stuff. In fact I’ll wager Disney Imagineering had a hand in developing many of them. Some of my memory on the exhibits moved may be sketchy but I think Westinghouse had the Home Of Tomorrow where the audience revolved around a set of fixed and separated sets that showed, in sequence, homes of today and tomorrow (which I guess is today then isn’t it?) with each automaton families from Victorian times on in complete wonderment at all their new time saving appliances. That one closed just a few years back. The GM thing -or what’s left of it, if I’m not mistaken, is inside the EPCOT globe. Then of course there is the insufferable It’s a Small Small World, which had been the Pepsi exhibit.

    The World’s Fair itself was absolutely amazing -the first picturephone, the world’s smallest TV (you looked at it through a microscope), great international exhibits, a huge Ferris Wheel, a Rocket Park with all sorts of NASA space stuff -much of it from local Grumman on LongIsland which was the first space port before Cape Canaveral.

    I don’t think there is anything quite like it anymore.The scale was massive, I’m guessing easily as big as a major theme park -with plans so big, in fact, that a huge area was not even finished before the fair closed.

    It’s been a while -anyone remember better than me?

  8. GM’s Futurama Was the best exhibit at the fair. My parent’s took us there several times and it was my favorite. The three towers featured in MIB were from the New York state pavilion and its ‘Tent of Tomorrow’. It’s one of four remaining structures from the fair, the others being the Unisphere, the ‘Pool of Industry’ -which features the ‘Fountain of the Planets’- and the New York Port Authority heliport.

    If you look at this link in Google Maps:,-73.844827&spn=0.002845,0.006373&z=18

    You can see the NYS pavilion and some Google-brand digital weirdness in the way they stitched the photos together.

  9. I remember this. I remember my father taking me on the ride and telling me I would see the world that I would be living in…I’m still waiting for my flying car. This ad makes me nostalgic.

  10. I liked the The Ford Magic Skyway better. Disney produced it as well as The GE Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and It’s A Small World.

  11. Judge Doom: A few weeks ago I had the good providence to stumble upon a plan of the city council. A construction plan of epic proportions. We’re calling it a freeway.
    Eddie Valiant: Freeway? What the hell’s a freeway?
    Judge Doom: Eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena. Smooth, safe, fast. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past.
    Eddie Valiant: Nobody’s gonna drive this lousy freeway when they can take the Red Car for a nickel.
    Judge Doom: Oh, they’ll drive. They’ll have to. You see, I bought the Red Car so I could dismantle it.

  12. Quick poll: Does the advent of the internet (which was either unforeseen or underestimated by 1950s futurists) make up for the absence of the flying cars we were promised? Discuss.

  13. I like these things because they remind me of how lousy people are at prognosticating the future. “Soylent Green” indeed. As it turns out, Soylent Green is probably going to be made of vitamin enriched tofu, and be pretty good for you.

    I not a rosy-eyed technologist, but I do hate the overwhelming anxiety about technology in our society, and I hate more the kind of “blinders on” rosy eyed technology that this represents ~ the dream of a bunch of lousy car engineers that future will contain their lousy cars. How nice for me to see that only 50 years on, the exact opposite of their selfish and ill-conceived conception of the future has come to pass.

    And, I might point out, that if this little thing had been of any real value to those same lousy car engineers, if they HAD actually tried to produce cars that went under the ocean, or fly through the air, they might well still be in business, instead of sucking value tax dollars away from more important social needs.

    But imagination, daring and leadership have been extinct in American big business for nearly as long as I’ve been alive, with no exceptions that I’m aware of (for those of you bouncing in your seats, getting ready to yell “Apple”, I’d like to point out that was a small business that started in the late seventies, and I’m old enough to remember when they were the fresh young kid taking on the imaginationless Big Blue).

  14. @ Anonymous #22:

    How nice for me to see that only 50 years on, the exact opposite of their selfish and ill-conceived conception of the future has come to pass.

    I dunno about that. GM may not be where they might have hoped financially, but most modern cities are still built around the automobile.

    If anything our current infrastructure leans more toward highway systems than it did 50 years ago. As Zuzu alluded, Judge Doom’s evil scheme in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was basically a true story if you leave out all the parts with cartoon characters.

  15. @23

    Sorry, I should be clearer ~ I meant their dream of a world inhabited by poorly designed GM cars. Even that doesn’t quite get it right though, since:

    A) There are tons literally/figuratively of GM cars surrounding me today

    B) They’re not actually gone, since the gov’t is keeping them on life support, when the market has rightly decreed that their crappy model of “auto business” should die.

    But at least they’re being forced to change in some dramatic ways, and I’m hoping the gov’t gets out o’ the way quickly, and let’s them live/die on their own merits.

    As for the American “Automobile Land” point won in your case. I’ve lived in Europe and Asia, and I’m quite aware of the utter failure to create or maintain infrastructure for mass transit. I now live in South OC, CA, but used to live in Portland, OR. In Portland my wife and I had one car, and didn’t use it much, due to the excellent mass transit. In OC? Yeah, seriously. We NEED two cars to function, ’cause you can’t walk or reasonably take the bus anywhere.



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