Forward-thinking USC professor/engineer Jerry Lockenour has held onto a 1988 issue of LA Times Magazine for 25 years waiting to see how its predictions about the Los Angeles of 2013 would pan out. (Now he uses it to help teach technology development and applications.) The magazine included a narrative about a family living in their retrofitted smart house in Granada Hills, along with sidebars with experts explaining what things might be like in the distant world of 2013; there are also illustrations and predictions from the great Blade Runner set designer Syd Mead, made for a never-produced CBS series called LA 15. Like a lot of futurism, the results are mostly very silly (laser discs! a robo-dog who helps with homework! India dominating cigarette production!) with a little eerie accurateness thrown in. Here are the best parts:
"It is a cold, sunny spring morning in April, 2013. In this area of Granada Hills north of Rinaldi Street, about a third of the residents have already headed out to their jobs, as required by Los Angeles County's mandatory staggered work plan. Many of the remaining households have not yet begun to stir."
"Flashing his monthly Metro Rail pass at a uniformed guard, Bill boards the shiny aluminum train for the 20-minute ride downtown to the Fifth/Hill Street Station. As he passes through Hollywood on an elevated part of the track, Bill marvels at the way the neighborhood sleaze has been systematically cleaned up, thanks to massive redevelopment along Sunset Boulevard."
"Downtown is encircled by Metro Rail tubes and dominated by two earthquake-proof mega rises. Syd Mead envisions structures with hanging floors, supported from the outside by steel beams, that are designed to sway with movement."
"Mead imagines a city characterized by clean lines and high buildings--a crowded, busy place with sleek transportation tubes and few architectural remnants of the 20th Century."
"USC futurist Selwyn Enzer, for one, disagrees with the currently popular slow-growth movement. He believes the region will have to allow high-density housing in some neighborhoods in order to preserve the area's one-family housing areas. Otherwise, he says, density will creep up throughout the city."
"[L]arger single-family homes could be divided into several sections, allowing more than one family to share the space, or several families might live in one house, sharing kitchen, dining and recreational facilities, says USC architecture professor John Mutlow. There will also be more apartments over commercial spaces, he adds .... Mutlow also predicts that home owners will build and rent out secondary houses behind their first houses, which will help them 'maintain their life style.'"
"With a quick check of the car's electronic map system, Bill sees that the Harbor Freeway is like a giant parking lot and decides to take Metro Rail part of the way in .... As Bill slowly drives toward the Golden State Freeway, his eyes start watering, as usual, from the sun and heavy smog .... How ironic, he thinks, that even with mass transportation, there are still so many cars on the road that the commute downtown now takes three times as long as it did 25 years ago."
"This is all I need, Bill is thinking, as his car sits motionless in the gridlock on the Golden State Freeway just before the 101 interchange. For a while, he was really zipping--his digital speedometer clocked him at almost 13 m.p.h.--but that was for only a mile. And it was before the blue-jump-suited police officer stopped the dented old gas-guzzler ahead of him."
"Even though drivers are charged extra to drive into the downtown area, automobiles jam the streets."
"On the elevator ride up to his office--located on the 70th floor of the 73-story Library Tower, until recently the tallest high rise on the West Coast--Bill looks out at a strikingly sophisticated skyline. With the advent of L.A.'s status as a world city and one of the three financial centers of the world--along with Tokyo and New York--the downtown area is as vital as that of either of those cities. Thousands of people live here now--or keep an apartment here and have a house in the suburbs--and it has emerged as a thriving regional center."
· L.A. 2013 [LAT]