Down the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City

Clay McShane, Author
Clay McShane, Author Columbia University Press $34.5 (288p) ISBN 978-0-231-08390-4
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-231-08391-1
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In this reworking of his Ph.D. dissertation, McShane ( Technology and Reform ) examines the relation between ``automobility'' and urbanization in America. He traces the history of city streets to show how automobile technology emerged in the U.S. when city residents began thinking of their streets as trafficways rather than open public spaces. He explores how the internal combustion engine finally took over those streets, a development that led to great leaps in suburbanization. The author then turns to the role of the car in popular culture, and suddenly his ponderous prose becomes positively sprightly as he shows how the automobile came to symbolize ``psychic liberation'' for American society. Even so, it is difficult to see how anyone not a specialist in urban history or civil engineering will want to wade through the first 124 pages. Photos not seen by PW . (May)
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