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Past Right Now

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Quit honking, it's only got one horsepower!

This is where something is much like the past, either preserved through isolation or deliberately re-created, but definitely existing in the present day. No time machines here! Many real-life and fictional theme parks will play on this trope. Some take it to greater extents than others. In fiction, you can expect an Adventurer Archaeologist to discover a Lost World with supposedly extinct species still living. See also Retro Universe, where the whole world is like this, although somewhat more likely to incorporate history-flavored versions of present-day technology or sensibilities.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Suitsu District is this. It is like an early-19th-century French city, preserved through isolation, while the other districts appear modern.

    Comic Books 
  • Transmetropolitan has this with its reserves, which are huge expanses of land where people go to live a different lifestyle (Viking, Middle Ages, Aztec...). They regularly take amnesiacs to forget they were part of the modern world in the first place. Visitors to the reserves require special injections that neutralize the various diseases they pick up in the City, and others to protect them from the diseases to which those in the reserves have built up resistance.
  • One Golden Age Batman story had Batman and Robin chase a gang of crooks to a private island where the owner forbade any modern technology, deliberately keeping the island in an idealised version of The Gay '90s.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Up, Carl dreamed of adventuring to Paradise Falls as a child. About 60 years later, he manages to get there... and it looks exactly the same as when he was a kid.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Austin Powers is a 1960s spy, frozen and then thawed, bringing his "mod" lifestyle and fashion sense with him.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Indy crash-lands into a remote village in India, whose people are suffering because they lost their sacred stones.
  • Ong-Bak: A small traditional village has its statue stolen, and sends its resident warrior into the city to get it back.
  • Tom-Yum-Goong: A small traditional village has its elephants stolen, and sends its resident warrior to Australia to get them back.
  • Stargate: A different planet happens to be remarkably similar to Ancient Egypt.
  • The village itself is revealed to be this in The Village (2004).

  • Jurassic Park, the ill-fated theme park where dinosaurs are actually alive ... and the sequel to Jurassic Park (1990), The Lost World (1995).
  • Also, not the sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World (1912) by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The Peach Blossom Spring, a short story written by famed Chinese poet Táo​ Yuān​míng, a.k.a. Táo Qián (365-427), in which a fisherman gets lost and finds an idyllic utopia founded before the Warring States Period.
  • In Running Out of Time, the town of Clifton, Indiana has been created to reflect life in the 1840s, and anyone born in the town has been brought up believing that they are living during that time. It functions as a 24-hour historical park, with visitors watching the residents through hidden cameras. Initially the citizens live there voluntarily, but when things change the protagonist's mother finally breaks the secret and sends her out of the village to look for help.
  • Played with in the Village Tales novels. The parishes insist on the 1662 prayer-book and no women clergy. The whole District is part of an AONB, everything has a preservation order on it, and, as the duke says, even the cowsheds and sheep-folds are at least Grade II* ("damn me, I want an Act of Parliament to change a plug" at His Grace's residence). Of course, there is growth all the same: the new social housing (Georgian to the last detail, and housing retired Gurkhas), the community real-ale brewery (Victorian steam technology), the restored heritage steam railway, the planned recreation of the Georgian canal.... All with broadband, of course. The duke has managed to get his Tory way and make his conservative rural neighbors happy ... all by suckering the Green sorts, the National Trust supporters, and the Lib Dems into doing his bidding and thinking it theirs.
  • In Ra, there's a historical recreation that covers the entire world. While the protagonists think they're living in the early 21st century, they're actually living in the 195th century, on an Earth that was "rebooted" to a reconstruction of 1970. Most of the people living in the affected area have no idea that they're living "in the past"; only the handful of people who built the recreation know the truth.
  • Diogenes Club: In "The End of the Pier Show", a small seaside town is being artificially kept as it was during World War II in the 1970s. Unfortunately, those responsible are about to be taught a very painful lesson: namely, if you choose to live in the past, you do not get to choose only the good bits of that past.
  • Zigzagged in "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard". Cordwainer Smith describes an attempt in the present day of the story (14,000 years from now) to recreate a bygone culture, apparently of the 19th or 20th century: people speak French and read newspapers as they dine at a cafe. However, they are served by animals given humanoid characteristics, as is typical for the time in which the story is set, and no one knows what to do with the "money" with which they "pay" for their meal.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series had several of these, where the Enterprise visited worlds that had either deliberate recreations of earlier eras on Earth: the gangs of Chicago, or NAZI Germany; or where parallel development had recreated Earth cultures: the Roman Empire, a 1960s Earth where an attempt to stop aging wiped out all the adults, or a world where the cold war had turned hot, and the surviving "Yangs" (Yanks) and "Comms" (Communists) have been thrown back to near stone-age technologies, but are still trying to kill each other.
  • The X-Files episode "Gender Bender" had a group called the "Kindred" that were Amish-type throwbacks. Except they had super powers of seduction, and changed genders after sex, and might have been aliens. But not like the other aliens on the show. At all.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has an episode where they visit "Colonial Springfield," based on Colonial Williamsburg.
  • On Futurama, Past-O-Rama is a historical theme park that gets everything wrong.
  • In Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tom and the Mayor stage a forced 19th-century re-enactment, including compulsory trade-ins of car keys for horses and a complete power-down of Jefferton's electrical grid. Chaos ensues.
  • South Park parodied the theme park version, with the performers refusing to break character even in the midst of a hostage crisis.
  • The Kim Possible episode "Cap'n Drakken" started with a class trip to a historical-recreation village, and concluded with a sail-and-cutlass battle against a Ghost Pirate crew (led by Drakken, who was possessed by the ghost captain).

    Real Life 
  • The Amish are a sect of Christianity whose members deliberately choose to lead a simple life that avoids most modern technologies and prioritizes self-reliance. The Amish drive buggies instead of cars, make their own clothes and avoid using electricity and electronic devices whenever possible.
  • Colonial Williamsburg is the historic district of the independent city of Williamsburg, Virginia. It consists of many of the buildings that, from 1699 to 1780, formed colonial Virginia's capital. Staffed by tour guides in period garb. Similar historic villages include Historic Richmond Town in Staten Island, New York and Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
  • Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, created by Henry Ford, consists of historical buildings from around the United States disassembled, shipped and then reassembled in the village. It is a functioning town representing life somewhere between 1776 and 1910.
  • "Living Fossils" are organisms that, morphologically, have changed very little for eons. Occasionally scientists may find a species that they thought was extinct for millions of years...
  • Renaissance Faires: Well, they sort of try...
  • The Russian city of Suzdal has been under a preservation edict for the last 90 or so years. The most modern building is the town hall; otherwise, the architecture is no more modern than that of the 19th century. Horse-drawn carriages and cars share the road. The nearest railway station is an hour away, and most of the workers live in the nearby city of Vladimir. Suzdal is so well preserved that it's the standard filming location for films about old Russia.
  • Bolton, Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom - well, in some parts anyway, like Gilnow and the border with Blackburn the housing and streetlighting (mainly GEC lanterns, although newer WRTL MRL6 and Holophane QSS replaced them). The area is very much still in The '80s (apart from the satellite dishes and cars, although many 1980s cars are common there - like the Vauxhall Cavalier, Opel Ascona, Ford Sierra, Mazda 626, Ford Escort, as well as newer cars too, so it's partially balanced out). It looks sort of like a mix between 1980 and 2011.
    • Same goes for nearby Bury, although in road signing terms you get a mixture of modern designs and older 1970s-1980s TSRGD (Traffic Signs and General Regulations) diagrams, such as "Lorries prohibited" etc. as well as older 1960s-1980s streetlighting (although modern replacements survive next to the old). Plus the old cars mentioned above, too.
    • Possible Present-Day Past on a geographical scale, not social?