chapter  18
20 Pages

Paving America for the automobile

No OTHER technological innovation has so transformed the geography of the United States as the automobile. Landscapes inherited from pre-automobile times have been remade to suit highway-oriented technology and new landscapes have emerged shaped strictly in its image. The roots of this revolution lie deep in the American experience, for the automobile has enabled Americans to act out long-established dreams. The motor car has not imposed new values so much as it has reinforced old. Underlying the love affair with automobiles is an American drive for individual fulfillment through freedom of mobility, the love of newness coupled with a naive belief in change as progress, the embracing of privatism fueled by competitive rather than communal impulses, the pursuit of the utilitarian that embodies profound disrespect for the environment, and the belief in equality whereby a tyranny of the majority often rules. These social values can be observed in the processes of geographical change for which automobile technology stands symbolic.