The Jetsons Modernism
Fresh Mid-Century Modern Home Listings from Across the U.S.A.
Sixty-two years ago, American cartoon viewers first met The Jetsons. The show focuses on a regular family navigating life in “Orbit City” in the year 2062 (100 years in the future). The brainchild of Hanna-Barbera (Scooby-Doo, Flintstones etc.), the program was ABC’s first full-color broadcast. The futuristic vision was a hit with 1960’s American audiences fascinated by modern living and space travel. The Jetsons would prove influential over the years with its comedic exploration of topics like modern travel, food, relationships, and of course, architecture.
Life in Orbit City is glamorous, high-tech, and automated. House chores are completed cheerfully by a capable robot named Rosie. Meals are prepared instantly with the push of button. The work week is short with only two one-hour working days, allowing Jetson’s patriarch George to sleep in until 11:00am. There are gadgets for shaving, hair-combing, showering, dressing, walking the dog; you name it. Naturally, getting around town involves flying. Although, the flying cars still get stuck in traffic, stressing out their passengers to no end.
The architecture of 2062 is imaginative and fun, with ample parking for flying cars. Sorry urbanists, the future is not walkable. Public transit appears to be a forgotten earth-bound relic. As far as the structures go, bold geometric shapes, dramatic sloping roofs, floor-to-ceiling glass, molded plastics, and steel beams are exactly the elements you would expect a 1960’s vision of the future to be built from. The Jetsonian-style is probably best described as hyper-modernist with clear inspiration via John Lautner and Googie architecture. Danny Graydon, author of a book about of The Jetsons: The Official Guide calls the look “mid-21st century modern.”
The inspiration for the cartoon is clear when you consider the surroundings of Hanna-Barbera’s 1960’s Los Angeles headquarters. Southern California’s Googie coffee shops, Disney’s Tomorrowland, Lautner’s Chemospere House, and the LAX Theme building would all fit perfectly if teleported into 2062 Orbit City.
The Jetsons provided a fun comedic look to the future rather than a precise prognostication. In fact, the show serves to tell us more about America in the 1960’s than anything else. Looking back 60 years later, some of the show’s projections feel spot-on (video calls and smart watches for example) while others wistfully dated. But who knows? With four decades to go until 2062, we’ll have to wait and see what else the future holds.