Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology

Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology

by Robert C. Post


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This history of mass transit vividly illustrates the technological and social struggles that have accompanied urbanization and the need for an efficient and cost-effective means of transportation in cities.

From the omnibus and horsecar in the 1830s to the renaissance of urban mass transit at the turn of the 21st century, Robert C. Post depicts mass transit as a technological system that provided an essential complement to industrialization, urbanization, and, ultimately, to the rise of consumer culture.

At the heart of the story is the streetcar, a conveyance that played a central role in the development of all U.S. cities and towns. Once dominating the urban landscape in towns and cities throughout the United States, the streetcar has all but disappeared. Post traces its evolution and demise, debunking the urban myth that the downfall of the electric streetcar was directly attributable to the corporate malfeasance of General Motors and others from the automotive world.

Post concludes with a meditation on the prospects for mass transit in a postmodern society that must face up to the contradictions of privatized mobility and the reality of dwindling natural resources.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801893155
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 08/15/2010
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert C. Post received his doctorate in American history from the University of California, Los Angeles. From 1974 to 1996 he was employed by the National Museum of History and Technology/Museum of American History. His books include Street Railways and the Growth of Los Angeles (1989) and Technology, Transport, and Travel in American History (2003). For fifteen years he was editor of Technology and Culture, the quarterly journal of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). He was SHOT's president in 1997-98 and recipient of its Leonardo Da Vinci Medal in 2001.

Table of Contents

1. Before Electrification
2. The Trolley Ascendant
3. Competition
4. Rail or Rubber?
5. Heavy and Light Rail
6. Conclusion
Afterword: But What About Judge Doom?

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