There's a charm to 19th Century visions of what the future would be like. I'm not scoffing at how wrong they went, I'm taking an affectionate look at human imagination at work. Sometimes artists took current trends and just escalated them, sometimes they came up with images from way out in left field.
This illustration is worth taking a few minutes to study at the largest size. It's by Albert Robida, for an 1890 issue of LA VIE ELECTRIQUE. My first thought was, look at all those wires all over the place! How can these flying taxis get anywhere? I bet there's accidents every day. Then I laughed at the driver's steering wheel, his cap and his businesslike posture.. he's just doing his job.There used to be a widespread prediction in the 1950s that at some point, most people would be driving flying cars or small helicopters everywhere. This hasn't come to pass and hopefully it'll never start to happen. People have enough trouble handling regular cars, which (when they stall out or break down) can roll to the side of the road in most cases. Looking up and imagining a dozen SUVs zooming overhead with drivers texting or finishing another beer or arguing on a cell phone.. not to mention all the vehicles which failed inspection or are almost out of gas or have the CHECK ENGINE light on for the past week.. well, I'd be apprehensive.
And here's a slightly more up-to-date 1960s version of a flying car. Watch BLADE RUNNER for Syd Mead's well-thought-out concept (and it's a good idea to watch BLADE RUNNER again, anyway.)