airships, culture, design, economy, education, First World War, flight, German Zeppelin Factory, Germany, history, Le Corbusier, Photographs, photos, Quand les Cathedrals Etaient Blancs book title, travel, WWI, Zeppelin
One of the most important events happened at the start of the 20th Ccentury, was called successful flight! The economic growth factor and military impact without which no empire can exist, were enormous.
The last part of the 19th Century had seen various flying trials but speed became the buzzword during the first quarter of the 20th Century. The first result, a change in transportation was the most important economic event in history even though most economists might argue this fact.
Probably, they would refer to barbed wire, as a contributor, yes barbed wire was instrumental in keeping an owner’s grazing animals in a compound at low cost, and in other cases effectively deter and keep people out, again at low cost and thus providing better security and lower maintenance costs for private and government property without having to result to building Forts or Castles!
Flight made the world smaller, more accessible and faster (perhaps giving rise to much philosophical illusions in literature). Telegraph and telephone inventions had done the same thing but on a different physical scale. The invention of the steam engine gave a similar impetus half a century earlier. Couple this with the change from wood to steel ship hulls, gave rise to a much faster, efficient type of transportation. The axiom “time is money“, or as we could say today, “time from a season into a nano second“, became the measure of the world’s economic activity.
Reading through a 1929 magazine, I came across this advertisement for a famous bookbinding company and in the bottom of the ad I saw what looked like a rocket but certainly was meant to look like an airship by the illustrator. I found the association fascinating.
The late twenties were the age of the Zeppelins, almost a household word at the time like xeroxing became for copying and goggling became the meaning for internet searching etc.The so-called airships (lighter than air) built by the German Zeppelin Factory were the largest air transports ever built. Invention of a new type construction (see above) different from the balloon, different from aircraft led to workmen building bolted space frames, something new, unseen on the outside. The economic effects were staggering. Men who were not building skyscapers or white cathedrals as le Corbusier would refer to, twenty years later in his 1937 book Quand les Cathedrals Etaient Blancs but building space frames.By 1914 Zeppelins were well developed but not as widely accepted as a major transportation vehicle due to a number of limiting factors like the huge hangars that needed to be built for their storage and production. By 1918, the Zeppelins due to the fact that there were now aircraft which could fly higher and faster, did not qualify anymore as a military tool for warfare. They had been used earlier for bombing raids and reconnaissance during the First World War. By the mid-twenties several long intercontinental flights had been made and the outlook for extensive travel looked better than ever before for the Zeppelins. However, disaster loomed in the future for this type of airship.
The photos used in this post are from our own collection and were publicity photos mailed to South American Magazines for advertising as one can see from the backside here. Anyone interested in further exploration of the world of flight and airships should visit, what I believe is one of the best internet sites, devoted to the topic.