Title

The Hands of Death: Public Space and the Street in Gilded Age America

Presenter Information

Henry Curtis

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

My topic of choice concerns the evolution of public space in American cities and towns as occasioned by the rise of the automobile and suburbanization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is an examination of the street's shift from public space to transportation corridor, and of the battle and discourse over this shift. Combined with increasing suburbanization, this shift led to a profound realignment of governmental policy regarding streets. My project deals with the impact of the growing presence of cars on the structure of early 20th century cities in the US, primarily focusing on Missoula, MT.

The American street's transition from public space to single-purpose transportation conduit is deeply reflective of broader currents in Gilded Age American society. As a result of suburbanization and the rise of the automobile, the streets' role in the eyes of the influential and powerful thus dramatically shifted from a common ground to a conduit of transportation. This evolution in the nature of the street had broad impacts on the structure and culture of cities and towns.

This shift was deeply impactful on American society. By examining Missoula, a far smaller city in a region previously largely unexplored by urban transportation history, much can be gained--what little study of this transition that exists has focused overwhelmingly on larger, primarily Eastern cities. Thus, I will contribute to the study of urbanization and transportation in twentieth century America.

I plan to complete this project by conducting original primary research, primarily in Missoula, on this topic. My sources span from governmental safety and transportation reports and municipal ordinances to discourse on the topic in local press. I am working with local and state archives, and am also incorporating prior research on the nationwide evolution into my work.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 17th, 4:20 PM Apr 17th, 4:40 PM

The Hands of Death: Public Space and the Street in Gilded Age America

UC 331

My topic of choice concerns the evolution of public space in American cities and towns as occasioned by the rise of the automobile and suburbanization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is an examination of the street's shift from public space to transportation corridor, and of the battle and discourse over this shift. Combined with increasing suburbanization, this shift led to a profound realignment of governmental policy regarding streets. My project deals with the impact of the growing presence of cars on the structure of early 20th century cities in the US, primarily focusing on Missoula, MT.

The American street's transition from public space to single-purpose transportation conduit is deeply reflective of broader currents in Gilded Age American society. As a result of suburbanization and the rise of the automobile, the streets' role in the eyes of the influential and powerful thus dramatically shifted from a common ground to a conduit of transportation. This evolution in the nature of the street had broad impacts on the structure and culture of cities and towns.

This shift was deeply impactful on American society. By examining Missoula, a far smaller city in a region previously largely unexplored by urban transportation history, much can be gained--what little study of this transition that exists has focused overwhelmingly on larger, primarily Eastern cities. Thus, I will contribute to the study of urbanization and transportation in twentieth century America.

I plan to complete this project by conducting original primary research, primarily in Missoula, on this topic. My sources span from governmental safety and transportation reports and municipal ordinances to discourse on the topic in local press. I am working with local and state archives, and am also incorporating prior research on the nationwide evolution into my work.