One Track Mind

monorailposterI was looking through the Art Center alumni list recently, and found one of my favorite industrial designers, Bob Gurr. Gurr is responsible for many of the vehicles at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I have a special love, as many of you know, for Main Street USA and its vehicles, affectionately called “Gurr-mobiles”. Gurr’s design for the monorail, however, is a true work of art. The first model at Disneyland, opened in 1959, bears the distinct mark of its time: fins, aerodynamic styling, bright and forward-looking colors. It’s what a 1959 Cadillac wants to be. The 1971 Walt Disney World model is sleeker and simpler, more like a Lear jet. Gurr worked for WED Enterprises (Disney’s Imagineering arm) for over four decades. His work includes Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway, which premiered at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, the Autopia vehicles, and a multitude of other projects. It is easy to make the mistake of discounting Gurr’s work because it is utilized in an entertainment setting, or more specifically, a Disney park. But much of his work operates almost continuously, servicing millions of people efficiently, and clearly communicates a sense of optimism or joy. That’s not easy.

Monorail illustration, John Hench

Disneland, Tomorrowland, monorail and Skyway

Monorail, Disneyland


Monorail Mark IV, Walt Disney World

Mark IV monorail, Walt Disney World