Shining City on the Hill

Last weekend I went to see Tomorrowland, the movie. It wasn't what I expected. For some reason, I thought it would be a magic portal to the 1967 Tomorrowland. After considering that, I realize this would make for a rather dull movie. George Clooney rides on the slow moving PeopleMover. Then he visits Adventure Thru Inner Space. The whole gang has lunch at the Coca Cola Terrace and listens to The New Establishment. Not too much action. No chases or ray guns.

In my mind, the 1967 Tomorrowland still exists. Somehow I'm always disappointed to reach the end of Main Street USA and realize the 1990s version has stomped out the bright future. 1967 Tomorrowland was a gleaming shining city on the hill. It was a world of turquoise, yellow, red, and light blue, clean white paint, metallic silver walls, and Univers 67. Corporations were not evil so logos were proudly displayed. There was no better way to spend time than to ride the PeopleMover on a sunny afternoon.

We've all seen how something is changed moments before it would be hip again. If they only waited a couple of years, by 2000 the 1967 Tomorrowland would be genius.

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/ He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

The Road To Tomorrow

One of my favorite objects is a piece of tile from the Coca Cola Terrace at Disneyland. While we were working on the Encounter Restaurant project, I mentioned that I was heartbroken about the refurbishment of the Terrace. The team at Walt Disney Imagineering graciously retrieved a tile from the construction debris and gave it to me.

The 1967 Coca Cola Terrace was magnificent piece of architecture. It combined modernism with a touch of California levity and space age forms. When I was young, we went dancing at the Terrace on weekend nights. During the day, it was a great place for cheeseburgers and chicken fingers. Oh, yeah, I’m that fancy. The ceiling was fantastic. Like stars in the night sky, it had a random pattern of lights rather than symmetrical ordered rows. The crowing jewel of the Terrace was the stage. When not in use, it was a sculptural planting bed. As a band began playing, it rose up from the ground and became an elevated stage. It’s still there, and is used for the Jedi Training Academy. If only the New Establishment were still together.

Many of these images have been sent to me over the years. Consequently I don’t know the correct provenance. Gracious thank you to those who have shared these. These sites are great resources and most probably the original owner.