The Rolling Houses and Glass Homes of Futurlandia


JF Ptak Science Books   [Part of a series on the History of the Future]

The rolling house of the future (offered in the September, 1934 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics) promised at least one thing–the ability to be towed by a tractor.  (And seeing that the thing is being pulled along by chains, let’s make sure that there’s no downhill towing, yes?)


[Image source originally located via  Retronaut though now I cannot find the correct links for them. Sorry!]

The spherical houses seemed to come with their own railroad tracks for easier motion–a continuously self-laying track, which would make the new American suburbs a Suburbia Mobilia.  Cheap cars, cheap houses, and a Great Depression might have made for a picture of the future that was very self-sustaining.  On the other hand, the one thing that would not have been in the gunsights of the American manufacturing center is the size of the houses, which seem to me to be on the order of 500 square feet or so, which does not make for a lot of room to store all of the consumables that were waiting just around the next decade or so, waiting for the first real generation with a large amount of disposable income to loosen on all manner of never-to-be-purchased-before-by-the-working-classes consumers.  In this respect I am sure that these small buckets for human life would seem unacceptable, leaving little room for purchases. 

++00++ 9.25 ochiltree, texas

It does remind me of wholesale town-moving, but from the past–real-life stuff, things that happened.  Like here, for example, in  Ochiltree, Texas, 20 October 1920.  This was a rare occurrence–to move a town–though it is hardly unique, particularly if moving the town closer to a railroad line that had decided to pass it by meant the difference between life and death of the town, then, well I guess you moved the town if you could.  Cemeteries included, sometimes; and sometimes not.

A memory of another image of a futuristic future house of the future pulled my recent memory to a volume of Popular Mechanics for 1931, the August issue, featuring a “Home of the Future” speculation–this one was also small, but far less mobile, being constructed of metal and glass; and from what I can see, the common home’s exterior walls were mostly glass.

Future house514

It looks like a small place–I’m not sure that the car would actually fit in the glass garage.  And it doesn’t look all that comfortable, either, especially in regard to having no walls for bookcases.  (A wall of shelving for a collection of Kindles?)  There *is* a “skylight over the”library”, but it looks like the library isn’t more than a half case of books.  But perhaps in the future we are all entering a world where something is whatever we call it.  Oh, yes, I think that part of the future has already arrived in 2012, and I doubt seriously that the folks writing this article for a popular audience had anything more than a droll popularity in mind in their authorship.  In any event, this future house wasn’t mobile, was small, and looked pretty uncomfortable. And I also bet that the roof gave them problems up there in Futurlandia. 


By: JF Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

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