The Dream Is Dead. Google Sold Its Barge.

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 1 2014 9:55 AM

The Dream Is Dead. Google Sold Its Barge.

The Google barge photographed in happier days (October, 2013).

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The tech industry is all about dreams—at least that’s what Silicon Valley marketing would have you believe. But rarely does raw imagination and unbridled excitement play into a smartphone purchase.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

The Google barge was different. It was tantalizing, mysterious, and full of potential. And we were all happy it existed. But now it doesn’t, so happy Friday. Hope is gone from the world.


The barge was really two barges, one in San Francisco and one in Portland. Rumors about them reached fever pitch in November, and finally a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We're exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.” The plan was to turn containers on the barges into attractive structures. The New York Daily News even published renders.

But in March, the Los Angeles Times reported that the San Francisco barge got kicked out of the Bay and was relocating to Stockton, California, while Google did construction on it and acquired permits. And now the Portland Press Herald is reporting that the Google barge kept there has been sold to an “international barging company,” and that the containers on the barge will be scrapped.

Jessica Grondin, a spokeswoman for the city of Portland, felt the way we all feel. Her reaction to the Press Herald: “Bummer. I was hoping for something to come from this. Everybody was waiting to see what was actually going on.”

The barge in Stockton is still hanging around, and apparently its dock fees are paid through October, but it’s hard to hold out hope when the glory days of the barge seem so clearly behind us. Comfort one another in this moment of sorrow and try to stay strong.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.


The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.