In the years 1899, 1900, 1901, and 1910, French artists were asked to express in pictures what they think the year 2000 would look like. The picture series, which consisted of at least 87 pictures, were first produced as part of paper cards enclosed in cigar or cigarette cases, and later released as postcards. The first series was produced for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. Collectively, these pictures are called En L’An 2000 (literally, ‘In The Year 2000’).
These pictures remained fairly unknown until the year 1986 when science fiction writer Isaac Asimov chanced upon a set of aforementioned pictures. He then compiled and published them in a book, titled Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000.
Most of the pictures, interestingly, seem to abound in the theme of humankind living underwater; apparently, going back into the sea – where all life originated in the first place – is progress. However, these pictures only add to the theory that our perception of the future is, so to say, clouded by what we know and the things we are aware of at present; by that same logic, people in the 20th century, who already had access to cars, predicted, in their turn, flying cars, while the prospect of women in the workplace was unthinkable, simply because it was unknown to them.
51 of the total 87 are available for viewing on Wikimedia Commons. While most of these might strike you as absolutely outrageous and have you shaking your head patronisingly over people’s tendency to run away with their imaginations, all of them will make you think, and think hard.