Peter D. Norton. Got his Ph.D in History at UVA writing about (of all things) traffic. Guess the Elizabethan Era didn’t do much for him. Now he teaches there at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Here is an essay he wrote about Urban Freeways.
Fighting Traffic: U.S. Transportation Policy and Urban Congestion, 1955-1970
His 2002 dissertation you will have to buy. It’s been published this year by MIT Press.
Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (Inside Technology) (Hardcover)
He ought to be proud. Not many Ph.D dissertations get published as a book.
Before the advent of the automobile, users of city streets were diverse and included children at play and pedestrians at large. By 1930, most streets were primarily motor thoroughfares where children did not belong and where pedestrians were condemned as “jaywalkers.” In Fighting Traffic, Peter Norton argues that to accommodate automobiles, the American city required not only a physical change but also a social one: before the city could be reconstructed for the sake of motorists, its streets had to be socially reconstructed as places where motorists belonged. It was not an evolution, he writes, but a bloody and sometimes violent revolution.
“We forget that the search for mobility in urban areas has also led to a massive increase in mortality. Fighting Traffic makes the linkage between mobility and mortality explicit. This is a cutting edge work in mobility history and a major contribution to urban history.”
—Clay McShane, author of Down the Asphalt Path
“In this exquisitely researched book, Norton guides us through the complex and passionate debates that cleared the street to make way for the car. These decisions made decades ago still shape our cities, so they are vital to understanding the future of the automobile, as well as its past.”
—Zachary M. Schrag, author of The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro
“This is rigorous scholarship the history of technology, and the history of the automobile in particular, will truly benefit from. Norton’s fascinating, in-depth history shows the automotive revolution was fought in the streets, reshaping the use of public space and impacting perceptions for generations thereafter.”
—Gijs Mom, author of The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age