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Saturday
Apr232011

Fast Mail of To-morrow (1919)

Here at Paleofuture we often take a look at the most fantastical visions of the future: jetpacks, flying cars, meal pills, robot gigolos...

More rarely do we look at understated depictions of the future in history, simply because they tend to appear quite ordinary to modern eyes. This illustration by Harry Grant Dart -- a man who was no stranger to the cartoonish and the fantastical -- shows the U.S. airmail service in the not-too-distant future. The image appeared on the May 31, 1919 cover of Literary Digest and shows mail bags attached to parachutes, which are then dropped by airplane; all eyes of a small town fixated on this postal payload from the heavens.

While the first aerial mail service in the United State was tested in 1911, it wasn't until May 15, 1918 that the first mail route from New York to Washington D.C. was established. A few months later the U.S. Postal Service took over airmail duties from the U.S. Army, but regularly scheduled cross-country airmail didn't begin until 1924.

As one might expect, it took a long time to modernize airmail service, but Dart's image -- however quaint it appears today -- depicts one revolutionary step forward in making our world feel that much smaller.

 

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Headline in the next day's paper:

"Boy, age 4, killed by falling air mail torpedo". Or, "Boy, age 4, killed by horseless carriage while standing in road to watch falling air mail torpedo". Or, "Postal worker strains back, breaks wrist trying to catch falling air mail torpedo."

Whoops.

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

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