We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I was chatting, this weekend, about how trolleys became obsolete when cars and buses developed. Buses are far more flexible, subways are quicker, and people love their cars. The Model T killed the trolley. With car traffic, trolleys are not much faster than walking. I have to admit, though, that the trolleys - and subways - in Vienna are great and easy for a tourist to figure out. However, Vienna has little car traffic.
You need to read the Antiplanner to understand what horrors subways and commuter trains are. Buses make sense; every other form of public transit doesn't. They fail every single criterion of efficiency, cost per passenger mile, fuel per passenger mile and CO2 emissions per passenger mile.
I used to teach civil engineering. Every expert in public transit I ever met hated trains and trolleys. They all thought trains and trolleys failed every economic and ecological test almost everywhere. NYC needs them, as does Boston and a few other major cities. But really, there is no excuse for the existence of NYC or any other city with more than 500,000 people. They are too big to survive. They also generate corruption, violence and degeneracy beyond reason. The technical term is FUBAR.
He misses a few key elements. Cars didn't take off until they became enclosed, early 20s I think. Plus you had to have arterial build out.
But a real factor was probably truck transportation which permitted more productive land, isolated from the train tracks, to enter the market. Add in refrigeration in trains also. These reduced the value of land just outside the urban cores for food production while sending their value for residential and industrial development way up. Plus, the children of near-urban farmers would be more likely to not follow in their parents footsteps with all the close-by industrial opportunities.
Cars were freedom that allowed almost all to escape the dirty urban cores. That is why they are hated because they permitted people to escape the corrupt nanny-staters, who preyed on them from city hall and the political party hqs.
Trains and trolleys are a convenience for tourists. The tourist venues can cluster around them or people visit the old areas of historic interest. But residents are often stranded by such infrastructure as productive enterprises migrate to better areas. Technocrats love them since government is often the "business" left in the declining areas or "urban renewal" is used to build government offices in dying areas.
Similarly the American who has been humbled by poverty, or by his insignificance in the business order, or by his racial status, or by any other circumstance that might demean him in his own eyes, gains a sense of authority when he slides behind the wheel of an automobile and it leaps forward at his bidding, ready to take him wherever he may personally please.
In 1950 the civilian labor force of the United States was estimated to number a little less than 59 million men and women; in the same year the number of drivers in the United States was estimated to be a little larger: 59,300,000.
Never before in human history, perhaps, had any such proportion of the nationals of any land known the lifting of the spirit that the free exercise of power can bring.
This is something that has always bugged me about the history of home-building in the USA last century. The contemporary press post-war was full of reporting about the "housing shortage", all of the returning servicemen who would need places to live. This is the era of Levittown, Lustron homes, the inventions of pre-cut studs and the California framing hammer.
But wouldn't all of those people have needed housing anyway, whether there had been a war or not? There wasn't a sudden baby boom beginning in 1924 leading to more family formation two decades on, and the elderly were dying nearly as rapidly as they had done before to free up old housing stock.
I strongly suspect that that the reason for the boom can be laid squarely on the availability of financing for builders through the Veterans Administration and the Federal Housing Association.
Not only a good article, but a good discussion as well. You are right that Marc should have his own site.
JKB - So simple once it has been noticed, eh? Mass transit in general works out for tourists, and those supported by tourists. But that is not only the tourists from afar, but anyone outside of "driving and finding a place to park" distance. Sports and entertainment venues can be outside the city - but if inside, the city must have the ability to clear away tens of thousands rapidly.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
find the natural decorating perfect for a design-conscious wall in mid century. Natural architecture combined with Arts and Crafts.