University of Texas at Austin

Norman Bel Geddes (American, 1893-1958)
Magic Motorways (New York: Random House)

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 384, Magic Motorways Book, 1938-1956

Summary: Bel Geddes disseminated his ideas about the future of traffic in U.S. cities with his book Magic Motorways (New York: Ransom House, 1940), announcing that “there are too many cars” and proposing a more tempered approach to their accommodation, including still-valid ideas such as mini-cars for city driving, suburban subway systems, and “park and ride” areas for commuters living outside the city’s core.

Although reviewers primarily focused on Geddes’s vision of an automated highway system that effectively allowed cars to drive themselves across the country in 24 hours, the book was sufficiently influential to have many of its ideas repeated (some verbatim and without credit) by the editors of Automotive Industries in a 1956 special report on the impact of a national superhighway program titled “The New America That’s Coming.”

Copies of the book are cataloged in the Theatre Arts Library.

(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
box 20 384.1 Book contract 3Aug1938. Letters rec. 1939-1940. Correspondence 1956-1957.
box 20 384.2 Magic Motorways GM Futurama Exhibit Presentation.
box 20 384.3 Traffic Diagrams --- Sketch, clipping, photostat.
box 20 384.4 Multideck Bridge --- Sketch, photo note.
flat file 384.1 7 Renderings of traffic diagrams with photo notes. 2 photostats of US highway map.
flat file 384.2 Rendering of Multideck Bridge with notes.
photo box 11 384.1 7 Photographs of US map, traffic diagram, and title pages.
photo box 11 384.2 Sources --- 57 Photographs of existing traffic.
negative box 9 384.1 25 Negatives (7 damaged) of traffic diagrams and Futurama model.
box 20 384.4a Original envelope for negatives.
box 20 384.5 Book publicity and clippings 1939-1956.
box 20 384.6 Cut pages of book.
flat file 384.3 Page Proofs. 3 Photographs.