New Architecture and City Planning: A Symposium

By Paul Zucker | Go to book overview

HIGHWAYS, THE FRAMEWORK OF THE CITY AND REGIONAL PLAN

By G. DONALD KENNEDY

At the turn of the century America was cementing into a pattern of city and rural life based on the types of transportation then dominant: ocean and inland waterway shipping, the railroads, the horse and wagon, and the electric urban and inter-urban railcars.

Our few large cities were compact, growing overcrowded per acre. The influence of railroads in developing new cities away from water routes was very marked. We were still a rural nation, but even the settled rural areas were within easy horse-and-buggy distance to rail or water transport.

Road travel was in its Dark Ages. The barge canals, stage- coach lines and Conestoga wagons, which had opened up the interior of the nation and the West, had given up to the railroads. Vast land areas, rich natural resources, were reachable only by seldom used wagon trails.

Overnight, as history is reckoned, the whole pattern of city and rural settlement changed. To a major degree, this was because a new form of transportation emerged, in the motor vehicle--the passenger car, the truck and the bus. The automobile expanded vastly the trading area of metropolitan centers, destroying small villages within the area. It gave industry freedom to expand be-

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