Monday, March 01, 2010

the long history of public transportation in America

Some of you may have already noticed, but Atrios has been pulling up some very interesting information lately, specifically old (old like pre-Cold War) maps of public transportation systems in American cities. The findings are striking in how they show that, even aside from the cities known for early adoption of mass transit (San Francisco, Chicago, New York), by the 1930's and 40's most cities actually had surprisingly comprehensive systems of trains and trolleys, some of which have since diminished or disappeared.

The implicit argument is that significant investment in public transit is not at all novel or un-American, but I find the maps interesting even aside from the politics of mass transit.

Just for giggles, I looked up a couple of others:
Grand Rapids, MI, 1927 (this is a proposed streetcar expansion map, but it is clear that in 1929 GR had a significant and widely used streetcar system)
Washington, DC, 1888
Dallas, TX, 1905

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