Venice in Vintage Mags!
August 19, 2009 3:14 AM   Subscribe

It's always a hoot to look through old issues of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, and with Google Books you can now do just that! But what do you get if you mix an eternally medieval city with eternally hopeful futurists? You get these mags' interesting take on Venice, Italy! Through their pages, you see the 20th century slowly but surely arrive to the canal city (or not, as sometimes the case may be...)

Like, "Gondoliers Get Traffic Tickets," as reported in the September 1951 issue of PM:
"The Venetian taxi driver now is confronted with traffic lights installed along the Grand Canal. More than 400000 people travel by boat along 500 miles of canals in the city, and a huge increase in water traffic has forced the police to patrol the seaways."
(Nowadays, as foretold in 1909 and again in 1926, it's motorboats that dominate the water traffic!)

In addition, the magazine covered (often with great period photos!) the rebuilding of the collapsed Belltower of Saint Mark's in 1909, '11 and '12, the city's acquisition of a a gas and steam powered fire boat in 1906, the arrival of electric lights to decorate gondolas in 1927, and what they called a "floating night club" in 1930.

Not all these great ideas took off, though, like the "Venetians strolling on famed canals with pneumatic water skis" in 1948 and wacky car boats in 1963 (again, don't miss the pics!). And there are even ideas that are STILL being worked on without fruition, like what you'd think would be the rather urgent plans to save Venice from flooding in 1976, 1988 and YET AGAIN in 2002. Or the so-called Sublagunare metro train, first discussed in PM back in distant 1911!

Last but not least, don't miss the strangely poignant picture of the city's attempts to protect its invaluable works of art during World War I in 1917 and 1931's gondola model you can make!
posted by Misciel (3 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by francesca too at 4:11 AM on August 19, 2009

Oh my gosh--thank you for this. My dad in Popular Science, April 1990.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:19 AM on August 19, 2009

Look at all the notes written in the margins in the issue in the "floating night club" link. I wonder what that was about?
posted by exogenous at 5:56 AM on August 19, 2009

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