History Faculty Publications
During the early 1960s, as the Golden Age of the automobile in America began to wane, several commentators, including Lewis Mumford, raised the critical question of whether the automobile existed for the modern city or the city for the automobile. How and when the automobile became central to urban life is deftly addressed in Peter Norton’s Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. This study is certainly one of the most important monographs focusing on the place of the automobile in American society within a historical context to appear in recent times; it interestingly supplements David Blanke’s Hell on Wheels: The Promise and Peril of America’s Car Culture, 1900 – 1940 (Kansas, 2007). In the process of telling his story, Norton convincingly demonstrates that it was people acting within interest groups who decided how the automobile would be used; this is not a tale of a technology having an irrepressible effect on the marketplace.
Copyright © 2009, History of Science Society. All rights reserved.
University of Chicago Press
Heitmann, John Alfred, "Review: 'Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City'" (2009). History Faculty Publications. 76.
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Book citation information: Peter D. Norton. Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.