Technological Revolution: Road Paving

Which type of road do you consider “normal”: graded and hard-surfaced or “ungraded, unsurfaced, rutted, and muddy”? An article by Christopher Wells looks at how changing use and views of agricultural roads in the late 19th and early 20th centuries paved the way for the modern highway system. Abstract: The period from the end of…

How Shipping Containers Shaped Freight History

Matthew Heins has written a new book about the impact shipping containers have had on the U.S. freight transportation system since the 1950s, The Globalization of American Infrastructure: The Shipping Container and Freight Transportation. From the publisher: A globally standardized object, the container carries cargo moving in international trade, and it utilizes and fits within the…

California’s Transit History

The California Transit Association has published a new book, “A Brief History of Transit in California.” The book, authored by UC Berkeley Professor Elizabeth Deakin and 10 of her students, includes an overview of transit planning and funding as well as more focused research papers completed by each student. ~Thanks to Asha W. Agrawal for this…

Haussmann’s Legacy

An article in the Guardian revisits Baron Georges-Eugène  Haussmann’s legacy rebuilding 19th-century Paris: “Haussmann rips up Paris – and divides France to this day.” Were Haussmann’s new boulevards “imperialist tools to neuter fermenting civil unrest in working-class areas?” Or did the boulevards provide “trees and broad pavements along which café terraces sprang up, soon to be…

History of Skyjacking

NPR has an interesting story that highlights how much security measures for air travel have changed in the past 50 years. The author of “The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking” is interviewed in this NPR Morning Edition segment from Friday, April 1, 2016. In the book, Koerner describes how “from…

Philadelphia’s Enduring Grid

The Guardian has a story on the origin and impact of Philadelphia’s 17th-century grid layout of streets. “Philadelphia grid marks birth of America’s urban dream.” The author argues that “However much the physical imprint of Penn’s plan may morph and fade, the values inscribed in his grid and squares – egality, adaptability, community, greenness –…