Electric, Steam or Gasoline


Technology tells stories. It tells our stories.

When we look at something, we often forget the journey it took to get there. How frequently do we take the time to look back? How often do we consider the choices that were made to get us here? What about your car, what did it take to get us where we are today? Charging stations at the grocery store, hybrid engines, 35+ miles per gallon; whether we take the time to realize it or not, these features didn’t just happen. Technology changed as we changed. It adapted as we grew. Sometimes though, those changes turn out to be our downfall.

In the early 20th century 22% of cars ran on gas. Steam and electric on the other hand dominated 80% of the market. Unfortunately, as gas prices dropped, and egos grew, so did our cars. Fuel efficiency was nonexistent, and the consequences for our environment were for someone else to worry about. Now, in 2019, we are realizing the ramifications of our actions. The environment is deteriorating around us, and we are forced to turn to the past, to try to save our future.

Our exhibition, Electric, Steam or Gasoline: The Past, Present, and Future of Alternative Power tells the story of where we were, how we got here, and where we need to go. Modern cars like the Chrysler Portal concept will be juxtaposed alongside its early 1900 counterpart, when electric cars had their first real heyday. Join us as we explore how companies like Chrysler and Tesla are using technologies from our past to try and rewrite our future.

This exhibit will run at the Cleveland History Center through April 2020, and will be accompanied by ongoing programming in partnership with NOACA (Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.) Thank you NOACA for your ongoing support!