Transportation and Urban Planning

Question: How did different modes of transportation affect architecture and urban planning at the beginning of the 20th century?

In the early 1800’s the most practical way to travel great distance and transport goods was on waterways. The early settlers gathered and created major cities in these areas that gave them this access. While these early settlers did some traveling on land, the journeys were long, dangerous, and difficult. Supplies and materials used for structures for most were found in their local community.

The dawn of the 20th century, showed great advancements. The railroad with its miles of track gave new opportunity to urban development. This great resource enabled movement of materials and supplies from a port or supplier to locations many miles away. As transportation evolved, urban development began to move further inland. Settlers found themselves living inland in rural areas, but quickly began to gravitate to the city especially when the electronic trolley lines began. This great innovation granted people the opportunity to travel much more efficiently. Previously residents were forced to live in the urban areas if they worked there. The only other options was using horses or walking on foot. With the trolley lines running from downtown to the suburbs, residents gravitated to the outskirts of town to avoid living in the commotion of a crowded city.

In the early 20th century automobiles began to surface among the wealthy, but by “1920, 8 million” Americans owned cars (America on the Move | Transportation History, 2011). A this time, even with the automobile being such a popular form of transportation, traveling in rural areas was still very difficult. With lack of roads, Americans still depended on the railways for both travel, supply and industry.

It was not until the 1950’s when the “American Dream” of a “house in the suburbs” became popular (America on the Move | Transportation History, 2011). The advances of the automobile, made this dream a reality. Roughly “50 million cars were” owned by Americans (America on the Move | Transportation History, 2011).

Aviation began to own the travel industry in the early 1960’s. The airlines opened great opportunity for the American culture to be connected across the nation. The airlines also ensured a more efficient supply of goods to pretty much anywhere in the nation.

With the evolution of transportation we see the changes in Urban Development. The earliest settlers lived in close communities as they have very limited means of transportation. The buildings used more native materials the communities were located in areas where resources were most accessible. With innovation can change as people gathered wealth they could afford more luxury and beauty in their structures and transportation gave Americans the opportunity to move out of the downtown areas. Today one of the biggest changes I have personally observed, as city grows, so do its roadways. Today many large cities have multiple highways built around the city to accommodate the heavy traffic. Subways, trains, busses, and automobiles have drastically changed where Americans live with respect to where they work.

Works Cited:
"America on the Move | Transportation History." National Museum of American History. Web. 24 Jan. 2011. .