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Book review
Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City
  1. David Hemenway
  1. Correspondence to Professor David Hemenway, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA; hemenway{at}

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Edited by Peter D Norton. Published by MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2008 (2011 paperback).

‘The formulation of a problem already contains half its solution.’

In 1920, the city street was a place where children played, pedestrians walked, and streetcars and horse-drawn vehicles shared the roadway. City streets, like city parks, were for public use. Automobiles were new, moved few people, clogged traffic, and endangered pedestrians. It was unquestioned that automobiles were the source of both the danger and the congestion. Yet by 1930, despite efforts by local police, chambers of commerce, and traffic engineers, the automotive coalition—self-described as ‘motordom’—had managed to redefine the city street as a place for motor vehicles only. For readers interested in urban issues, automotive safety, or social change, historian Peter Norton provides a fascinating exploration of this radical transformation. …

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