In 1910, an illustrator at Greater Atlanta Magazine drew a picture of what he/she thought Atlanta would look like in 2010. Dirigibles used as public transportation was the big idea. Boats on wheels were suspended below the blimps which allowed them to land along Peachtree Street. The drawing included a tall tower with multiple docks to allow dirigibles to take off and descend right there in downtown Atlanta. (Note: one reason why the Empire State Building was built so high in 1931 was to accommodate such a dock. 1,250 feet is the Zeppelin-friendly height. And that outdoor catwalk was originally intended for dirigible passengers.)
Dirigibles were so in vogue by the 30s that Frank Capra directed the film “Dirigible” in 1931. The film tells the tale of a French explorer who enlists the help of the US Navy in an expedition to the South Pole. There’s a love story, of course–Fay Wray plays the sought-after woman–and a risky rescue attempt by dirigible. Two years later Wray was atop the Empire State Building as King Kong was attacked by airplanes. Six years later, the Hindenburg crashed and burned, and that was the end of the dirigible big idea. At the very end of King Kong, when the fictional film director Denham looked at Kong’s corpse, he rejected the idea that the planes had killed Kong. “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the Beast” [sic], he said. But it was the airplanes that killed the dirigibles, beautiful as they were.