At a new exhibition at the reopening of the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, technology and designs for a better future are on display

If America has stood for anything, it’s surely forward-looking optimism. In New York, Chicago, Detroit and other shining cities, its soaring skyscrapers pointed to the future. But has the bubble burst in the 21st century?

“We don’t see ourselves striding toward a better tomorrow,” columnist Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times last month, citing research that found 71% of Americans believe that this country is on the wrong track. “We see ourselves tiptoeing around catastrophe. That was true even before Covid. That was true even before Trump.”

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