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Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street

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Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street

Abstract and Figures

Before the American city could be physically reconstructed to accommodate automobiles, its streets had to be socially reconstructed as places where cars belong. Until then, streets were regarded as public spaces, where practices that endangered or obstructed others (including pedestrians) were disreputable. Motorists' claim to street space was therefore fragile, subject to restrictions that threatened to negate the advantages of car ownership. Epithets—especially joy rider—reflected and reinforced the prevailing social construction of the street. Automotive interest groups (motordom) recognized this obstacle and organized in the teens and 1920s to overcome it. One tool in this effort was jaywalker. Motordom discovered this obscure colloquialism in the teens, reinvented it, and introduced it to the millions. It ridiculed once-respectable street uses and cast doubt on pedestrians' legitimacy in most of the street. Though many pedestrians resented and resisted the term and its connotations, motordom's campaign was a substantial success.
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Technology and Culture, Volume 48, Number 2, April 2007, pp. 331-359
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DOI: 10.1353/tech.2007.0085
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331
The obvious solution . . . lies only in a radical revision of our conception of
what a city street is for.
Engineering News-Record1
Bessie Buckley was distressed. Street accidents were maiming and killing
city residents—especially children. The Milwaukee schoolteacher wrote a
letter to the editor of her newspaper.Are streets for commercial and pleas-
ure traffic alone?” she asked. In the American cities of 1920, the question
was far from settled. Who belongs in city streets? Who does not belong?
What are streets for?2
To Buckley and many others, children at play belonged in streets. Most
city people viewed streets as the proper setting for many others as well,
from pedestrians to streetcar riders. They regarded the city street as a pub-
lic space, open to anyone who did not endanger or obstruct other users.
Yet in Buckley’s time, the competition for street space was intense. To win
and preserve a claim to it, competing users flung epithets at one another.
By choosing the term “pleasure traffic, Buckley cast doubt on automo-
This article is adapted from the author’s forthcoming book, Fighting Traffic: The Dawn
of the Motor Age in the American City. The author thanks MIT Press and the Social Sci-
ence Research Council of Canada for their help. He also thanks John Staudenmaier,
David Lucsko, Keith Walden, Dimitry Anastakis, Steve Penfold, Jamey Wetmore, Brian
Balogh, W. Bernard Carlson, Edmund P. Russell, and the anonymous readers for Tech -
nology and Culture, whose help made this article possible, whose thoughts made it bet-
ter, and whose friendship made its writing a pleasure. The author also wishes to thank
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and Kevin Leonpacher for demonstrating jaywalking’s utility
in the study of technology and culture.
©2007 by the Society for the History of Technology. All rights reserved.
0040-165X/07/4802-0004$8.00
1. “Motor Killings and the Engineer,Engineering News-Record 89 (9 November
1922), 775.
2. Bessie Buckley to editor, in “Where Can the Kiddies Play? Send Views to Journal,
Milwaukee Journal, 29 September 1920, 15.
Street Rivals
Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
PETER D. NORTON
TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE
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332
biles’ claim to street space.3Others, staking a claim for cars in streets, dis-
covered, reinvented, and promoted an obscure midwestern colloquialism,
jay walker.4
By the turn of the nineteenth century, streets were already shared by
several sociotechnical systems.5Private, horse-drawn vehicles and city serv-
ices (such as streetcars, telephones, and water supply) depended on them.
Pedestrians, pushcart vendors, and children at play used them as well. The
balance was always delicate and sometimes unstable, and crowds of auto-
mobiles soon disrupted it. During the 1910s and 1920s competitors fought
to retain, or establish, legitimate title to the streets. Language was a weapon
in this battle.
Of the many street rivalries, the feud between pedestrians and motor-
ists was the most relentless—and the deadliest. Blood on the pavement
often marked their clashing perspectives,6as did new words, especially epi-
thets. Their success or failure reflected not only the opinions but the for-
tunes of those who used them. Pedestrians forced from the street by aggres-
sive motorists blamed the problem on spoiled “joy riders,and were in turn
dismissed as boorish “jay walkers” by irritated drivers.
To most of those who even recognized the word, jay walker seemed
coarse and offensive. But by 1930, in the new street equilibrium based on
the supremacy of automobiles, jaywalker (by then normally condensed into
one word) was a conventional term routinely applied to pedestrians engag-
ing in street uses once beyond reproach. By then most agreed, readily or
3. In the 1920s, the use of pleasure car to designate a passenger automobile declined,
partly through the efforts of automotive interest groups. See, for example, Ernest
Greenwood to Harold Phelps Stokes, 8 May 1925, Automobiles, box 39 (Commerce
Papers), Hoover Library, West Branch, Iowa; R. H. Harper, quoted in “Auto Overcomes
Expensive Toy Idea,Washington Post, 3 December 1922, 4:11.
4. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989), cites a 1917 Boston reference as the first
known use of the term, but I have found seven earlier uses from 1909 to 1916, the earli-
est coming from the Midwest (cf. n. 56 below).
5. By “city streets,” streets in densely built-up areas are meant. Low-density residen-
tial streets (those in streetcar suburbs, for example) did not escape the trends described
here, but their history is distinct in important ways.
6. Probably well over 210,000 Americans were killed in traffic accidents between the
years 1920 and 1929, three or four times the death toll of the previous decade (itself
much bloodier than the decade before). See Committee on Public Accident Statistics,
“Public Accidents in the United States,” Proceedings of the National Safety Council 13
(1924), 840ff.; Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial
Times to 1970, pt. 2 (Washington, D.C., 1975), 720. For a careful analysis of the problem
of estimating accident figures, see H. P. Stellwagen,Automobile Accidents in the United
States,Safety Engineering 51 (1926): 71–74. In cities, about three out of four traffic fatal-
ities were pedestrians; see Mitten Management, Inc.,“Accidents and the Street Traffic Sit-
uation,Philadelphia Traffic Survey Report 4 (July 1929): 10, 18–19, in Philadelphia Rapid
Transit Company, box 1, John F. Tucker Collection, accession 2046, Hagley Museum and
Library, Wilmington, Del.; and “Automobile Fatalities Becoming One of Our Deadliest
Scourges,American City 35 (1926): 341–42.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
333
grudgingly, that streets were chiefly motor thoroughfares, open to others
only under carefully defined restrictions.
The motor age marked its arrival in the American city with asphalt
parking lots and concrete highways. But before the city street could be
physically reconstructed to accommodate motor vehicles, it had first to be
socially reconstructed as a motor thoroughfare. Only then could engineers
build new urban highways, designed for automotive speeds and the nearly
exclusive use of motorists.
To explain the origin of the automotive city in America, most historians
have examined the transition “from streetcar to superhighway.7This inter-
est in vehicles (electric railways and automobiles) and motor highways has
tended to obscure the earlier clash between pedestrians and automobiles. To
some historians, the city’s transition to automotive transportation was a
kind of Darwinian evolution by technological selection, in which the fitter
automobile drove the outmoded streetcar to extinction. Instead of nature,
city people selected (more or less rationally) the winning species in the
struggle for survival. In short, Americans rebuilt their cities because of their
“love affair” with the automobile.8In a study of Los Angeles, for example,
Scott Bottles concluded that “the public decided” to “facilitate automobile
usage as an alternative to mass transportation.” According to this interpreta-
tion, urban transportation evolved in response to consumer preferences,
much like other consumer goods in a free market. Americans preferred to
drive, and therefore “in a society that celebrates individual choice and free-
market economics,” city transportation had to be primarily automotive.9
Others have seen the problem differently. In crowded cities, mass de-
mand for automobiles could not automatically transform transportation;
instead, such places would have to be rebuilt to accommodate cars. In this
view, those promoting reconstruction were a social elite, not the mass of
transportation consumers. Such advocates of the motor city pulled up
street rails and planned the deconcentration of urban populations. When
there were no more streetcars to ride and cities were replanned around
motor transportation, city people rode buses or bought cars. Mass prefer-
ences were relatively unimportant. Clay McShane, for example, docu-
7. Mark S. Foster, From Streetcar to Superhighway: American City Planners and Urban
Transportation, 1900–1940 (Philadelphia, 1981). For more recent scholarship on street
railways, buses, and highways and their place in the origins of the automotive city, see
Zachary M. Schrag, “‘ The Bus Is Young and Honest’: Transportation Politics, Technical
Choice, and the Motorization of Manhattan Surface Transit, 1919–1936,Technology and
Culture 41 (2000): 51–79, and Matthew W. Roth, “Mulholland Highway and the Engi-
neering Culture of Los Angeles in the 1920s,Technology and Culture 40 (1999): 545–75.
8. John B. Rae, dean of historians of the automobile in America, assigns an impor-
tant role to Americans’ “love affair with the motor vehicle,” which was “welcomed in
American life” (The American Automobile Industry [Boston, 1984], 59, 69).
9. Scott L. Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City
(Berkeley, Calif., 1987), 253–54.
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mented an early affinity of interest between automotive groups and city
planners. Automotive interest groups wanted to rebuild cities for cars; plan-
ners regarded cars as the basis of the new and better city they would
design.10 Like Daniel Burnham, whose celebrated 1909 plan of Chicago was
a blueprint for “providing roads for automobility,” leading city planners
were “fantasists” who “in effect declared traditional cities obsolete by call-
ing for rebuilding downtown around the car.”11
A few historians have begun to redirect attention to pedestrians. Mc-
Shane documented clashes in New York City between motorists and pedes-
trians that reveal deeper disagreements about who belongs in the streets. In
a study of Hartford, Connecticut, Peter Baldwin found that pedestrians,
pressured by new traffic regulations and safety measures, relinquished the
streets.12 These findings suggest the possibility that the chief obstacles to
the automotive city were not street railways or pre-automotive city plans,
but prevailing conceptions of the city street.
Those who wanted a brighter future for cars in cities recognized this
obstacle and worked to overcome it. To uncover this struggle to determine
what streets were for, we must look beyond groups with recognized inter-
ests in city streets (such as street railways and automobile manufacturers)
and recover the voices of pedestrians and ordinary motorists. Recent theo-
retical work on the relationship between society and its technological sys-
tems will help as well.
Jaywalking as a Tool in the Social Reconstruction
of a Technology
Social-constructivist scholars have offered a framework that can help us
understand how the motor age came to the American city.13 Today we tend
not only to regard streets as vehicular thoroughfares, but to project this
construction backward in time. In retrospect, therefore, the use of streets
for children’s play can seem obviously wrong, and children’s departure
10. Clay McShane,Dow n the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City (New
York, 1994). Foster also gave substantial credit for the automotive city to city planners.
11. McShane, 203, 212.
12. Ibid., 176–77; Peter C. Baldwin, Domesticating the Street: The Reform of Public
Space in Hartford, 1850–1930 (Columbus, Ohio,1999), 214–25. McShane emphasizes the
clash between pedestrians (especially children) and motorists. Baldwin traces changing
conceptions of city streets, finding that in the 1920s “major thoroughfares” in Hartford,
Conn., became “more exclusively the property of the automobile,” and that “the con-
finement of pedestrians to sidewalks was constantly reinforced” (p. 224).
13. This discussion is derived from a school of scholarship called the “social con-
struction of technology,” promulgated originally in Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker,
“The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: or How the Sociology of Science and
the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other,” Social Studies of Science 14
(1984): 399–441.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
335
from streets with the arrival of automobiles seems natural. Only when we
can view the prevailing social construction of the street from the perspec-
tive of its own time can we also see the car as the intruder.
What is a street for? In 1910, the answers would have varied with the
affected social group, including parents, pedestrians, streetcar riders, and
motorists. But most—including many motorists—would have agreed that
streets were not for fast driving, and that motorists who drove faster than
pre-automotive vehicles were alone responsible for any harmful conse-
quences. But what made cars worth buying? Precisely their advantages over
pre-automotive alternatives. To those who bought and sold them, cars were
vehicles capable of higher sustained speeds than horses and more versatile
than crowded and track-bound streetcars. Thus the automobile’s essential
attributes put it at odds with prevailing perceptions of legitimate street use.
Used as intended, the car was a misuser of streets (fig. 1).
Whatever the legitimacy of their claim to street space, the motoring
minority had the power to drive pedestrians from the pavements. Fearful
for their safety, nonmotorists learned to limit their own access to streets
and to caution their children to look both ways before crossing. But regard-
ing the car as intruder, they also sought long-term solutions in the strict
regulation of automobile traffic. When such rules started appearing, and
FIG. 1 Who belongs in the street? When this photograph of Detroit was taken
in 1917, different street users would have answered this question differently.
Some would have called these pedestrians “jay walkers,” but most still would
not. (Source: Detroit News photo archive.)
TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE
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336
with more oppressive proposals on the horizon, automotive interests (or
“motordom,” as they called themselves) discovered that their greatest dan-
ger lay in the prevailing social construction of the street. To secure an urban
future for the car, they would have to win a legitimate place for it in the
street and cast doubt on the legitimacy of those who stood in the way.
Jaywalker was a tool in this reconstruction effort. It implied a new answer
to the question, What is a street for?—an answer that carried a sting. The his-
tory of this word before 1930 has something to add to our understanding of
how perceptions of sociotechnical systems develop. Social constructivists
have shown that users are “agents of technological change.14 The evolution
of jaywalking confirms findings already implicit in earlier studies of tech-
nologies and users: like use,misuse shapes artifacts, and struggles to fix the
meaning of an artifact often take the form of struggles to define these terms.
Pedestrians deprecated fast motorists with epithets such as joyrider.To turn
the tables, motorists appropriated the term jaywalker, using it in a larger
struggle to redraw the boundary between street use and misuse.15
The Epithet in the Struggle for the Street
Who is entitled to shout,“You don’t belong in the street!”? In 1910, pulp
publisher Edward Stratemeyer introduced his best-selling Tom Swift series
of stories for boys with Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle. As the book opens,
young Swift is riding a bicycle along a country road. His archrival, spoiled
bad-boy Andy Foger, comes speeding along in an automobile. A quarrel
over road rights ensues.
Foger makes the first move. By maintaining speed and sounding his
horn, he makes a claim by right of conquest. But Swift cannot evade him, so
the bluff is exposed. Foger swerves, landing the car in a ditch. The exchange
continues in words. Foger blames the accident on Swift. Swift replies by
painting motorists as usurpers and tyrants. “You automobilists take too
much for granted!” he declares.“I guess I’ve got some rights on the road!”
Foger then questions the relevance of old ways in a new age: “Aw, go
on!” he says.“Bicycles are a back number, anyhow.16
Real variations of this fictional battle were fought again and again over
14. Ronald Kline and Trevor Pinch, “Users as Agents of Technological Change: The
Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States,Technology and
Culture 37 (1996): 763–95.
15. Efforts to control definitions of use and misuse as a “closure mechanism” (or
means of controlling the construction of a system) are implicit in much social construc-
tivist research; see, for example,the reference to misuse in John Law and Wiebe E. Bijker,
“Technology, Stability, and Social Theory,” in Shaping Technology, Building Society
(Cambridge, 1992), 295.
16. Victor Appleton, Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle (New York, 1910), 3–4.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
337
the next two decades.17 Pedestrians (and bicyclists) cited custom to claim
prior rights, but custom could rarely withstand motorists’ superior power
and speed. Like Andy Foger, drivers replied with their own rhetorical
weapons and claimed that old ways no longer suited the new motor age.
Language is a component in sociotechnical systems, and like other
components it plays a role in the success or failure of the larger system.
Words assume particular importance when the system’s future is uncertain
or contested. Near the end of the Vietnam War, for example, an air force
colonel facing tough questions from reporters snapped back: “You always
write it’s bombing, bombing, bombing. It’s not bombing. It’s air support.18
Words such as air support or jaywalker are easily coined, but to support the
coiners’ cause they must enter circulation as accepted currency. Jaywalker’s
successful entry into the English language did not come easily.
Preserving Pedestrians’ Rights by Restricting Automobiles
Most judges defended pedestrians’ rights to the pavement. New York
City traffic-court magistrate Bruce Cobb called for “the rights of the foot
passengers, on account of their numbers” to be “reasserted and preserved,
and for motorists to be “forced into a decent recognition of the pedestrians’
rights.19 Although crosswalks were customary safe zones for pedestrians,
efforts to forbid crossing elsewhere nearly always failed. In 1913 a munici-
pal judge ruled that “the streets of Chicago belong to the city, not to the
automobilists.20 Eight years later, despite the revolution in street traffic, an
Illinois judge struck down a city’s requirement that pedestrians cross streets
at right angles or on crosswalks and that pedestrians follow other traffic
rules.21 Juries also tended to favor pedestrians. “Juries in accident cases
involving a motorist and a pedestrian almost invariably give the pedestrian
the benefit of the doubt,” a safety expert explained in 1923; “the policy of
the average juryman is to make the automobile owner pay, irrespective of
responsibility for the particular accident.22
17. For a remarkably similar example, see the dispatch from the Cincinnati Enquirer
printed in the Washington Post, 11 December 1915, 6.
18. Air force colonel David Opfer, quoted in “Inoperative,” Washington Post,29
November 1974, B7.
19. W. Bruce Cobb, in “Nation Roused against Motor Killings,New York Times,23
November 1924, 5.
20. “Speeder Wants All Street,Chicago Tribune, 6 May 1913, 5.
21. Benison v. Dembinsky (1926), 241 Illinois Court of Appeals 530 (accessible
through Lexis-Nexis); see also Myron M. Stearns, “Your Right to Cross the Street,
Outlook and Independent 155 (14 May 1930): 50–53, 80.
22. C. W. Price,“Automotive Industry Should Lead in Safety Movement,Automotive
Industries 49 (13 December 1923): 1189.
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When cars first threatened children’s use of the streets, many sided with
the children against the motorists. The Chicago Tribune lamented that chil-
dren had regarded the street “as part of their premises,”but could no longer
do so in safety.23 Some police and judicial authorities defended children’s
right to the roadway. Instead of urging parents to keep their children out of
the streets, a Philadelphia judge lectured drivers in his courtroom, com-
plaining, “It won’t be long before children won’t have any rights at all in the
streets.” As the usurper, the motorist, not the child, should be restricted:
“Something drastic must be done to end this menace to pedestrians and to
children in particular.24 When police did try to limit street play, many par-
ents objected. For a time,New York City police arrested “small boys who have
recklessly defied the perils of crowded thoroughfares,” but they soon desisted
because “it frightened and shamed the child and angered his parents and
guardians.25 “Children must play,” a St. Louis resident wrote in 1918, “and
even in the more exclusive residence sections it is difficult to always keep a
child out of the street. In other and more crowded sections, it is practically
impossible.26
To most parents, pedestrians, and police, the way to make streets safe
was to restrict the newcomers. Most such measures were intended to limit
automobiles to pre-motor age speeds, in effect negating the advantages of
the automobile. Police-imposed speed limits were always low, sometimes
extremely so. In 1906 the median state-designated limit in cities was ten
miles per hour, and local authorities often set limits still lower. States were
slow to raise them; Indiana, which limited city speeds to eight miles per
hour in 1906, had raised the limit to only ten by 1919.27 But because such
low speed limits were almost unenforceable, some city people demanded
that more be done.
Many called for a technological solution: mandatory governors to limit
maximum speed. One letter writer to the St. Louis Star suggested this: “Gear
them down to fifteen or twenty miles per hour and quit joking about speed
limit laws”; another proposed “equipping” cars “with some sort of governor”
to limit them to “fifteen miles per hour.28 Police departments were sympa-
23. “Automobile Ethics” (editorial), Chicago Tribune, 7 September 1905, 8.
24. Magistrate Costello, Philadelphia, 8 November 1924, quoted in “City-Wide War
Is Declared on Death Drivers,Philadelphia Public Ledger, 9 November 1924, 4.
25. “Street Accidents,” New York Times, 2 December 1915, 10.
26. C. C. White to editor,“Safety First Rules,St. Louis Star, 23 September 1918, 10.
27. Median speed limit based on state codes reproduced in Xenophon P. Huddy, The
Law of Automobiles (Albany, N.Y., 1906), 116–325. South Bend Police Department,
Automobile Drivers Attention,South Bend Tribune, 23 October 1919, 11; facsimile in
Peter Kline,“Newspaper Publicity for Traffic Rules,” American City 22 (1920): 127.
28. H. J. Schneider to editor, “Gear Down the Autos,St. Louis Star, 24 November
1923, 6; R. F. to editor,“Governors on Autos,” St. Louis Star, 19 November 1923, 16. For
an earlier example, see “What Shall Be the Cure for Automobile Speed Mania?”Illustrated
Wor l d 34 (1920): 85–86.
29. “Causes of Traffic Accidents—as Seen by Chiefs of Police,American City 34
(1926): 542. The survey was conducted by American City; 318 chiefs favored governors
(speed limit was not designated), 161 opposed. The chiefs suggested limits from 20 to 55
miles per hour, 35 being the approximate average.
30. “If You Do Not Help Regulate Traffic, Mr. Dealer,Some Day Traffic Will Regulate
Your Bank Account,Motor Age, 1 November 1923, 58; “Ordinance Defeated 7 to 1,Cin-
cinnati Enquirer, 7 November 1923, 8.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
339
thetic. In a survey, two of every three police chiefs agreed that their cities
should require governors on automobiles.29 Such a plan won mass support
in Cincinnati, where 42,000 people—more than 10 percent of the popula-
tion—signed petitions in 1923 for a local ordinance requiring governors
that would shut off automobile engines at twenty-five miles per hour. Ter-
rified city automotive interests organized a massive and well-funded “vote
no” campaign, and on election day, voters crushed the plan (fig. 2).30 This
experience, more than any other, taught motordom that it would have to
fight for the car’s rightful place in the city. Long-term success would require
streets that were redefined as places where motorists belonged and where
pedestrians were responsible for their own safety.
The Elusiveness of Pedestrian Control
Through local safety councils (local affiliates of the National Safety
Council), defenders of pedestrians’ rights influenced the terms of the safety
FIG. 2 The Cincinnati speed governor referendum frightened motordom into
organizing to reshape the traffic safety problem. This advertisement appeared
the day before the vote. (Source: Cincinnati Post, 5 November 1923. Courtesy
of the Cincinnati Post.)
31. Peter D. Norton, Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City
(Cambridge, Mass., forthcoming 2008).
32. Charles Hayes,“Auto Accidents Are Not Always Due to Drivers,”Chicago Tr ibune,
11 January 1920, F11.
33. “Regulation of Street Traffic” (editorial), American City 13 (1915), 174; John P.
Fox,“Traffic Regulation in Detroit and Toronto,American City 13 (1915), 176; Thomas
Adams and Harland Bartholomew,“City Planning as Related to Public Safety,” Proceed-
ings of the National Safety Council 7 (1918): 363; Peter Kline, “Newspaper Publicity for
Traffic Rules,American City 22 (1920): 126–27;“Marking Traffic Zones,” American City
25 (1921): 531, 533; R. D. Ballew, “Solving the Parking Problem in a Small City,Amer-
ican City 27 (1922): 31; A. R. Hirst, “You Can Say ‘Danger’ Once Too Often,American
City 27 (1922): 122; William M. Myers, “Traffic Lights and Zone Markers in Richmond,
American City 28 (1923): 454; Miller McClintock, Street Traffic Control (New York, 1925),
212–13; “Autoists Must Drive Chalk Line in Loop District,” Chicago Tribune, 28 April
1923, 4; George Earl Wallis, “Teaching Father Knickerbocker To Watch His Step,
National Safety News 8 (October 1923): 11.
34. L. J. Smyth,“The Jay Walker Problem,National Safety News 2 (11 October 1920):
11.
TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE
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debate. Seeing traffic casualties as a threat, local promoters of the automo-
bile usually backed city public safety campaigns through the early 1920s.
But these “safety weeks,” shaped by prevailing conceptions of what a street
is for, also featured displays that directed blame at automobiles. Parade
floats carried cars depicted as death-dealing demons. Posters showed moth-
ers holding limp children who were accident victims, and bereaved parents
dedicated public monuments to children killed in the streets. Left un-
challenged, such blame would threaten the automobile’s future in the city.31
Before others in motordom, Charles M. Hayes recognized that industry
leaders had to reshape the traffic safety debate. As president of the Chicago
Motor Club, Hayes warned his colleagues that bad publicity over traffic
casualties could soon lead to legislation that will hedge the operation of
automobiles with almost unbearable restrictions.” The solution was to per-
suade city people that “the streets are made for vehicles to run upon.32
Pedestrians would have to assume more responsibility for their own safety.
But how? Where they had been tried, legal regulations alone proved
ineffective. From 1915 on (and especially after 1920), cities tried marking
crosswalks with painted lines, but most pedestrians ignored them.33 A
Kansas City safety expert reported that when police tried to keep them out
of the roadway, “pedestrians, many of them women” would “demand that
police stand aside.” In one case, he reported,“women used their parasols on
the policemen.” Police relaxed enforcement.34
Because pedestrians had long defined the street as a place where they
belonged, their critics placed little hope in outlawing their habits (fig. 3).
Their problem was more a matter of custom than of law. Most judges were
against pedestrian control, and city dwellers resented fines or arrests for
what was a near-universal practice. Any successful plan would therefore re-
quire pedestrians’ cooperation. Change, said one safety reformer, would
35. A. J. Driscoll (Safety First Association of Washington, D.C.), quoted in “‘Jay-
Walking’ Banned,Washington Post, 21 October 1917, 8.
36. J. A. McRell, quoted in “Fines for Jay Walkers Help Safety in Newark,” New York
Times, 12 August 1923.
37. See posters in National Safety News and figures in Dianne Bennett and William
Graebner, “Safety First: Slogan and Symbol of the Industrial Safety Movement,Journal
of the Illinois State Historical Society 68 (1975): 252–53.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
341
require “education instead of prosecution or persecution.35 “We want to
educate the people rather than arrest them,” said a deputy police chief.36
The Discovery and Reinvention of Jaywalking
The industrial safety movement offered motordom a model for suc-
cessful public education. Through safety publicity, industries gave workers
responsibility for their own safety by directing ridicule at careless workers.
“Otto Nobetter,” a fictional factory worker and boob who maimed himself
weekly in industrial safety posters, made reckless factory hands look like
fools.37 New state workmen’s compensation laws directed responsibility for
FIG. 3 New York City, 1923. Pedestrians did not readily relinquish their custom-
ary rights to the street; regulation alone would not suffice. (Source: George
Earl Wallis, “Teaching Father Knickerbocker to Watch His Step,” National
Safety News 8 [October 1923]: 11. Courtesy of the National Safety Council.)
38. Ira C. Judson, “In the Wake of the Automobile Joy Rider,Wilmington (Del.) Sun-
day Morning Star, 2 May 1909, 13; “Publicity and Penalty” (editorial), Providence (R.I.)
Journal, 2 July 1921, 12 (“speed maniacs”). “Road hogs” was often favored; in 1925, a
British M.P. defined them as those who “run down pedestrians and attempt to escape
detection by driving on.” See J. M. Kenworthy, Daily Mail, quoted in “The Dangerous Art
of Crossing the Road,Public Opinion 128 (1925): 152.
39. Judson, 13; Allan Hoben, “The City Street,” in The Child in the City,ed.Soph-
onisba P. Breckinridge (New York, 1970 [1912]), 453. The term joy rider gained sudden
prominence in 1908; by 1909, it was featured in a Chicago stage comedy, “The Joy Rider”
(“In the Theaters,Chicago Tribune, 23 September 1909, 12). See also “Joy Riding” (edi-
torial), Chicago Tribune, 5 April 1909, 8, which classifies the term as “Gothamese.”
40. Untitled one-sentence item in the Chicago Tribune, 7 April 1909, 12.
41. On class “overtones”in conflicts between pedestrians and motorists, see Baldwin
(n. 12 above), 219–20, and McShane (n. 10 above), 177.
42. “In Simple, Child-Like New York,Kansas City Star, 30 April 1911, 1D (4:1). A
1921 definition retained this early sense: a jaywalker was “one who ‘shortcuts’ from the
regular traffic routes, pedestrian or motor” (B. H. Lehman, “A Word-List from Califor-
nia,Dialect Notes 5 [1921]: 109). See also “City Craft and Jay Walkers,” Chicago Tribune,
9 October 1921, 8.
43. “‘Jay’ Walkers,Washington Post, 18 May 1913, 7:4. See also “Joy Rider and Jay
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industrial accidents at business owners. Nobetter’s job was to redirect some
of the responsibility back to workers. Motordom needed an Otto Nobetter
for traffic safety. They found it in epithets that evoked his simple-minded
carelessness.
Joy rider and speed maniac—terms connoting irresponsibility and reck-
less disregard for others—were among the early insults pedestrians hurled
at aggressive motorists.38 In 1909, for example, “joy riders” were motorists
who abused their “power of life and death” over “pedestrians . . . the aged
and infirm ...children playing in the streets”; in 1912, they were “automo-
bilists” whose “aggressions” intruded upon the rights of pedestrians “to the
very great danger of children and aged people.39 Both views reflected the
unspoken assumptions of their time: that people on foot, including chil-
dren at play, had a rightful claim to street space.
Motorists counterattacked with jaywalker. “Chauffeurs assert with
some bitterness,” noted the Chicago Tribune in 1909, “that their ‘joy riding’
would harm nobody if there were not so much jay walking.40 A jay was a
country hayseed out of place in the city. By extension, a jaywalker was
someone who did not know how to walk in the city.41 Pedestrians had as-
sailed motorists as a privileged class; jaywalker was similarly a broad-brush
condemnation of willful pedestrians as boors. Originally, even pedestrians
applied the term to fellow strollers—those who obstructed the walkway by
failing to keep to the right, for example (fig. 4).42 By 1913 jaywalkers were
more often pedestrians oblivious to the dangers of motor traffic: “men who
are so accustomed to cutting across fields and village lots that they zigzag
across city streets, scorning to keep to the crossings, ignoring their own
safety” and “impeding traffic.43
Walker” (editorial), Post-Standard, 25 November 1913, 4, which placed most of the
blame for pedestrian casualties on motorists.
44. John Hertz, quoted in “Agree on Code of Sane Speed for Speedy U.S.,Chicago
Tribune, 25 March 1926, 6; J. L. Jenkins, “New Police Order Bars Jay Walkers at Busy
Crossing,Chicago Tribune, 28 October 1923, A12; Thomas J. Hay, “Carelessness, Not
Speed, Cause of Auto Mishaps,Chicago Tribune, 25 January 1920, 15.
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343
To overcome long-standing traditions of street use, motordom ap-
pealed to modernity. “We are living in a motor age,” explained John Hertz
of Chicago’s Yellow Cab Company. And we must have not only motor age
education, but a motor age sense of responsibility.” According to an indus-
try trade journal, “this is a changing world and we have to adapt ourselves
to the changes.” A car dealer told city people to get with the times. “The
automobile is here to stay,” he wrote. “The streets are for vehicle traffic, the
sidewalks for pedestrians.44 Because jaywalker bore the right connotation
FIG. 4 The first known illustration of “jay walkers.” This 1911 cartoon precedes
the earliest Oxford English Dictionary citation for the word by six years. In its
early definition, jaywalkers obstructed other pedestrians by their irregular
paths and their susceptibility to distraction by sidewalk vendors (such as the
strop oil salesman depicted here). Jaywalkers were a nuisance more to others
afoot than to motorists, depicted here as rare, peripheral, and aristocratic.
(Source: “In Simple, Child-Like New York,” Kansas City Star, 30 April 1911,
sec. 4, p. 1.)
45. Cornerman Walter H. Douglas, quoted in Nick Woltjer, “Jay-Walking Campaign
Is a Big Success,Grand Rapids Herald, 12 June 1921, 5:3.
46. “Police Department,”Washington Post, 20 February 1916, A2.
47. “Middle-Block Crossing Is Defended,New York Times, 2 December 1915, 10;
“Crossing at the Corners,New York Times, 11 November 1915, 12.
48. Hayes (n. 32 above).
49. John Hertz, quoted in J. L. Jenkins,“Sees Big Cut in Taxi Rate with Traffic Relief,
Chicago Tribune,29 March 1922, 4; see also “‘Jay-Walker’ Blamed by Hertz for Most Auto
Mishaps,Chicago Tribune, 6 February 1922, 5.
50. Chicago Motor Club, “Who Is to Blame for Accidents?” (Traffic Talks no. 2),
Chicago Tribune, 27 September 1923, 18.
51. “Keep the Children Off the Streets, Coroner Urges,” Chicago Tribune, 22 July
1924, 7; “Urge Children Sign Pledge to Beware Traffic,” Chicago Tribune, 24 July 1924, 7.
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of rural backwardness, it was just the tool for this reeducation effort. Ad-
vocates of pedestrian control tried to define a jaywalker as anyone who en-
tered the roadway at a place other than an intersection; anything else was
“crossing the street in the rube fashion. 45
In its early years, jaywalker meant different things to different users. Over-
worked police “cornermen” at intersections used it to target pedestrians who
ignored their signals. By the middle teens, it was a feature of “police par-
lance.46 But such use sparked controversy. In 1915, when New York City’s
police commissioner Arthur Woods sought to apply the word to anyone who
crossed the street at mid-block, the New York Times protested, calling it
“highly opprobrious” and “a truly shocking name.” Any attempt to arrest
pedestrians would be “silly and intolerable.47 Others, however, promoted the
term as a legitimate tool of public safety publicity, and its use spread.
Pedestrian Reeducation: Jaywalking in City Safety Weeks
Motordom found opportunities in the city safety campaigns of the late
teens and early twenties to promote the new term and influence its conno-
tations. In 1920 Chicago’s Charles Hayes asked for less attention to “speed-
ers and reckless drivers” and more to “Jay Walkers.”48 Two years later John
Hertz, the president of the city’s Yellow Cab Company, also adopted the
term. “We fear the ‘jay walker’ worse than the anarchist,” he declared, “and
Chicago is his native home.49 By the autumn of 1923, Hayes’s Chicago
Motor Club was using jaywalker in an offensive against prevailing notions
of traffic safety.50
When Hayes and the Chicago Motor Club persisted in such claims, city
coroner Oscar Wolff retorted that accidents were due to speeding cars, not
pedestrians, and in 1924 he joined police chief Morgan Collins in a “war on
speed” to “save the children” and “give the pedestrians a chance.51 Hayes
fought back. Heated exchanges enlivened newspapers; the club pronounced
Wolff “derelict in his duty.
Similar controversies erupted in city safety weeks elsewhere. Through
52. “Judge Assails Talk of ‘Reckless Pedestrians,’” Detroit News, 24 August 1922, 10.
53. Ivan H.Wise,“How a ‘Safety First’ Campaign Was Conducted,American City 10
(1914): 322–26, quote on 326.
54. Lehman found it “not common” (n. 42 above), 109.
55. Robert P. Utter, “Our Upstart Speech,” Harper’s Magazine 135 (1917): 66–72,
quote on 70, cited in Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989), as the first known use of
jaywalker (cf. n. 4 above).
56. “Convention of National Safety Council Opens,St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 16 Sep-
tember 1918, 3.
57. A. McKie Donnan, “The Human-Interest Safety First Campaign in San Francis-
co,American City 23 (1920): 154.
58. “Jay-Walkers Will Be Curbed To-Day,Providence (R.I.) Journal, 1 July 1921, 13;
“Safety Week Still Leads 1920 Record,Providence (R.I.) Journal, 2 July 1921, 11.
59. Perhaps the earliest example occurred in Cleveland during its 1919 safety week;
see “Make Final Plans for ‘Safety Week,’” Cleveland Plain Dealer, 26 September 1919, 16.
60. “Did You Get One of These?” Grand Rapids Herald, 7 June 1921, 3; “Jaywalkers
Scarce as Safety First Crusade Makes Its Impression,Grand Rapids Herald, 10 June 1921,
3.
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345
the influence of local motordom and the more pragmatic reformers, adults
on foot were subjected to intense sloganeering against “reckless pedestri-
ans.52 In Syracuse’s pioneering safety campaign of December 1913, a man
in a Santa suit used a megaphone to denounce careless pedestrians as “jay
walkers.” According to one safety reformer, those singled out for this treat-
ment “never forgot it.53
By the late teens, safety campaigns were spreading the term quickly and
shaping its connotations.54 In 1917, a jaywalker in Boston was “a pedestrian
who crosses the streets in disregard of traffic signals.55 The following year
in St. Louis, leaflets distributed during the first public safety week organ-
ized by the National Safety Council taught pedestrians that the “jay walker”
is “the man who refuses to use the crossings and cuts the corners.56 Other
cities went further. In a 1920 safety campaign in San Francisco, pedestrians
found themselves pulled into mocked-up outdoor courtrooms where
crowds of onlookers watched as they were lectured on the perils of jay-
walking. The idea was to kid the people into taking care of themselves,
though surely many defendants didn’t appreciate the joke.57 A year later,
Boy Scouts in Providence,Rhode Island, summoned jaywalkers to a “school
for careless pedestrians” for reeducation.58
By then, Boy Scouts were a mainstay of public safety campaigns, where
they introduced thousands to the word jaywalker and its motor-age defini-
tion.59 During a 1921 safety week in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example,
the safety council posted Boy Scouts to issue cards to offenders, teaching
them that they were “jay-walking” (fig. 5). To justify the curtailment of pedes-
trians’ customary rights, the cards explained that cutting corners was “per-
missible when traffic was horse-drawn,” but “today it is dangerous—condi-
tions have changed!” As a local newspaper put it, “thousands of people who
never knew what jaywalking meant have learned the meaning of the word. 60
61. “Safety Gospel Will Permeate City This Week,Cleveland Plain Dealer, 28 Sep-
tember 1919, 1, 11.
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During safety weeks, unwanted attention—whether from department-
store Santas, judge impersonators in mock hearings, or street-corner Boy
Scouts—was intended to discourage old pedestrian practices (figs. 6 and 7).
In some safety campaigns, however, clowns took the ridicule publicly, as
examples to others. In Cleveland,“crowds of ‘jay walkers’” (recruited for the
purpose) taught parade-goers to disapprove of the practice.61 Onlookers in
New York City laughed as a buffoon allowed himself to be repeatedly rear-
FIG. 5 With cards, Boy Scouts taught pedestrians to relinquish their customary
rights to the street. Top: This 1921 card, distributed to pedestrians in Hartford,
Connecticut, promoted the redefinition of “jay walking.” (Source: “Boy Scouts
and Kiwanis Club of Hartford Put on Anti–Jay Walking Campaign,” National
Safety News 3 [7 February 1921], 4. Courtesy of the National Safety Council.)
Bottom: Two years later, 600,000 of these cards were distributed in New York
City. (Source: Barron Collier, Stopping Street Accidents: A History of New York
City’s Bureau of Public Safety [New York, 1925], 76. Courtesy of the Barron
Collier Company.)
62. Barron Collier, Stopping Street Accidents: A History of New York City’s Bureau of
Public Safety (New York, 1925), 114.
63. “‘Make April Safe’Was Philadelphia’s Slogan,Electric Railway Journal 69 (1927):
809, 811. See also National Safety Council, Seven Days for Safety (Chicago, 1930), 14–15.
64. J. C. Townsend, quoted in “Discussion on Traffic Hazards,” in Proceedings of the
National Safety Council, Tenth Annual Safety Congress, Boston, 26–30 September 1921, 593.
65. Nick Woltjer,“Jay-Walking Campaign Is a Big Success,”Grand Rapids Herald,12
June 1921, 5:3; Philip Vyle to editor,“Pedestrians’ Rights Ignored,New York Times,6 July
1925, 10.
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347
ended by a slow-moving Model T.62 In Philadelphia, a pair of “Country
Cousins” dressed “as rubes” distributed “Cautious Crossing Crosser” but-
tons to pedestrians.63
Repayment in Kind: The Invention of Jay Driving
Many pedestrians resented and resisted antijaywalking campaigns. In
Grand Rapids, the chief of the local safety council admitted that “some of
the people were very indignant over it, as they naturally are when their per-
sonal liberty is interfered with. 64 A New Yorker objected to the distribution
of “rebuke cards.”A Michigan couple took resistance almost to the point of
a civil disobedience campaign, “collecting about 15 blue warning cards”
from Boy Scout enforcers as they deliberately crossed streets “in every place
but the crosswalks.65 A Detroit judge courted such dissenters in a reelec-
FIG. 6 At a safety parade in New York City, circa 1924, a clown played the role
of a jaywalker while a Model T repeatedly struck him. (Source: Barron Collier,
Stopping Street Accidents: A History of New York City’s Bureau of Public Safety
[New York, 1925], 76. Courtesy of the Barron Collier Company.)
66. Charles L. Bartlett, speech to the Vortex Club,Detroit, 23 August 1922, quoted in
“Judge Assails Talk of ‘Reckless Pedestrians,’” Detroit News, 24 August 1922, 10; see also
“Saving Women, Children Bartlett’s Idea of Justice,”Detroit News, 31 August 1922, 33.
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tion campaign: “The pedestrians,” he said, “have a right in the street, how-
ever much reckless drivers insist to the contrary.”66
Critics of pedestrian control fought to regain the rhetorical high
ground. A Chicago editor proposed that a pedestrian condemned as a “jay
FIG. 7 Ridicule of jaywalkers featured prominently in traffic safety campaigns
by the early 1920s. (Source: New York Evening Journal, 1923; reprinted in
George Earl Wallis, “Teaching Father Knickerbocker to Watch His Step,”
National Safety News 8 [October 1923]: 11. Courtesy of the National Safety
Council.)
67. “A Jay Walker Law” (editorial), Chicago Tribune, 14 July 1927, 8.
68. George A. Davies to editor, “Auto Traffic,St. Louis Star, 31 October 1922, 14
(emphasis added). For a rebuttal, see E.A. M. to editor, “Traffic a Two-Sided Question,
St. Louis Star, 3 November 1922, 14.As early as 1915, the Kansas City Star urged its read-
ers “Don’t Be a Jay Driver,” but the term did not catch on; see reprint in the Washington
Post, 10 October 1915, M3.
69. “Make the Streets Safe” (editorial), Washington Post, 31 July 1923, 6. Just as reck-
less motorists were sometimes called “jay drivers,” “joy rider” was at least once reversed
and applied to a pedestrian. In 1919, a policeman stopped champion boxer Jack Demp-
sey on a Chicago street for crossing against the signal. The Tribune described Dempsey’s
violation as a “joy walk”(“Champion Jack Dempsey ‘Stopped’—by Traffic Cop,Chicago
Tribune, 8 July 1919, 16).
70. “Theater,Chicago Tribune, 2 March 1925, 17 (cf. n. 39 above); and H. B. H., let-
ter to editor,“Jay Driving,” Chicago Tribune, 10 November 1926, 10.
71. “The Motor ‘Flivverboob,’” New York Times, 9 July 1922; “Consider the ‘Flivver-
boob,’ a Horrible Example,Chicago Tribune, 17 September 1922, A11. The National
Safety Council used the word for some months in safety posters; see the posters included
in National Safety News 8 (August and September 1923). The term was coined by F. B.
Simpson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. David Blanke of Texas A&M University and the author
independently brought this term to light again in 2004.
72. The term (and variants) did persist (through survival or reinvention). In 1929, a
Chicago resident fingered the “jay-autoist” as “the real traffic offender” (letter to editor,
“The ‘Jay-Autoist’ Menace,Chicago Tribune, 25 August 1929,A7); in 1936, a New Yorker
complained that “jay drivers are more of a menace than the jay-walker” (William Floyd
to editor, New York Times, 13 July 1936, 14).
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349
walker” was instead likely to be “a fairly alert frontiersman trusting to his
instincts.67 In a 1922 letter to his newspaper, a St. Louis man turned the
“jaywalking” label against those who promoted it. “We hear the shameful
complaint of jay walkers, to console jay drivers,” he wrote.“It is the self-con-
ceited individual who thinks people are cattle and run upon them tooting
a horn.” Instead, cities should “give precedent to people who are walking.
The streets belong to the people and not to any one class, and we have an
equal right, in fact, more right than the automobile.68
Within a year, jay driver was gaining more conspicuous use. In 1923 the
Washington Post argued that “the jay driver is even a greater menace to the
public than the jay walker.” Washington, D.C.’s deputy traffic director, I. C.
Moller, later endorsed the term.69 In 1925 a stage sketch called “The Jay
Driver” amused audiences at Chicago variety houses.70
To a point, motordom was prepared to join pedestrians in ridiculing
reckless drivers, fearing that the worst among them would provoke rules
prejudicial to everyone else. In 1922 the American Automobile Association
(AAA) even offered twenty-five dollars to the person who suggested the
best new epithet for the motoring equivalent of a jaywalker. The winner
was flivverboob, a term that, like jaywalker, cast class aspersions (it could
hardly apply to drivers of Pierce Arrows, for example). But the AAA did lit-
tle to promote flivverboob, and there is no evidence that it ever caught on.71
But even jay driver failed, despite its more natural origins.72 It lacked the
73. Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed. (Spring-
field, Mass., 1936), 1331.
74. “Eldridge to Ask Law Controlling Walking Traffic,Washington Post, 22 July 1925,
20; Robbins B. Stoeckel, “Our Rights on the Highway,” National Safety News (1923): 19.
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support of a power comparable to motordom, and it was not quite apt. A
jay is foolish or gullible. Critics of motorists could call them cold-hearted,
tyrannical, or selfish, but a motor car conferred too much power, moder-
nity, and worldly sophistication to be the possession of a simpleton. Pedes-
trians who risked their lives to cross busy streets without the protection of
a cornerman or signal could indeed run foolish risks, however, and “reck-
less exposure to danger” became part of the first dictionary definitions of
jaywalker.73 Motorists’ most persuasive claim to roadway priority thus lay
in the physical threat they represented to others.
Los Angeles: Pedestrian Education as Precursor
to Pedestrian Control
Pedestrian control began to work better when cities learned to precede
it with intense publicity that questioned customary pedestrian practices,
while making enough concessions so that the more compliant would not
be tempted to jaywalk. Los Angeles led the way, while other cities watched
and learned. Los Angeles showed them that legal measures and technical
devices (such as automatic signals) were only adjuncts to more effective
methods.
Los Angeles proved that successful pedestrian control depended as
much on publicity efforts as on rules. City police had tried issuing rules
that ordered pedestrians not to “walk in the roadway, except to cross the
street,” and not to “cross the intersections diagonally”—to no apparent
effect. The Automobile Club of Southern California tried to help the police.
At its own expense it painted crossings and posted signs warning that “jay
walking” was prohibited, even though the term did not appear in the traf-
fic code (fig. 8). These, too, were largely ignored.74 In 1922 groups with a
stake in the city’s traffic problem joined the automobile club in a coalition
calling itself the Los Angeles Traffic Commission. The group included rep-
resentatives of the electric railways, but it was dominated by automotive in-
terest groups (its president, Paul Hoffman, was Studebaker’s top regional
salesman). Finally, in July 1924, the commission hired Miller McClintock to
find a way to solve the problem.
McClintock, just twenty-nine, was a former college English teacher
completing a doctorate in municipal government at Harvard University.
For his dissertation research, he spent the summer of 1924 observing traf-
fic in cities. When McClintock visited Los Angeles he met Hoffman and his
colleagues on the commission, who put him to work. The result was a pro-
posed traffic ordinance that McClintock hoped could serve as a model for
cities nationwide.75 The L.A. City Council approved the ordinance in
November; it went into effect in January 1925.76
McClintock—like Tom Swift’s rival Andy Foger—said a new age justi-
fied new ways. “The old common law rule that every person, whether on
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
351
75. Miller McClintock,“Simple Rule Code Needed for Traffic,Los Angeles Times,16
November 1924, 6:1, 3.
76. Thomas Sugrue, “Miller McClintock,Scribner’s Magazine 102 (1937): 9–13, 99.
FIG. 8 With motordom’s help, Los Angeles, like Washington, elevated “jay
walking” from an offensive epithet to a term with legal standing. In 1923
signs notified L.A. pedestrians: “Jay Walking Prohibited by Order—Police
Department.” The Automobile Club of Southern California paid for the signs.
(Source: Robbins B. Stoeckel, “Our Rights on the Highway,” National Safety
News 8 [December 1923], 19. Courtesy of the National Safety Council.)
77. McClintock,“Simple Rule Code Needed,” 3.
78. “Traffic Law Explained,Los Angeles Times, 23 January 1925, 2:2; Los Angeles
Times, 24 January 1925, 1:1.
79. “Jaywalkers Given Grace,Los Angeles Times, 24 January 1925, 2:1, 2; E. B.
Lefferts, “Regulation of Pedestrians” (address to the National Safety Council, 28 Septem-
ber 1927), in Transactions of the National Safety Council, Sixteenth Annual Safety Con-
gress, vol. 3 (Chicago, 1927), 19–24. See also E. B. Lefferts,“Effective Regulation of Pedes-
trians,American City 37 (1927): 434–36. The most defiant pedestrians were arrested
immediately, however; see “New Law on Jaywalking Is in Force,Los Angeles Times,25
January 1925, 1:7.
80. Lefferts, “Regulation of Pedestrians,” 20–21; Lefferts, “Effective Regulation of
Pedestrians,” 434–35; “School Tunnel Action Urged,Los Angeles Times, 25 October 1925,
1:14.
81. Lefferts, “Regulation of Pedestrians,” 21; Lefferts, “Effective Regulation of Pedes-
trians,” 436. Baldwin (n. 12 above), 224, reports a similar use of unwelcome public atten-
tion directed at violators arrested in Hartford in 1929.
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foot or driving, has equal rights in all parts of the roadway must give way
before the requirements of modern transportation,” he told the press.77 His
ordinance included strict pedestrian control measures, with fines for jay-
walkers. On downtown streets pedestrians had to keep within crosswalks
and obey traffic signals; where there were none, they would have to raise a
hand to halt oncoming motorists.78 But backers of the new code had learned
the hard way that rules alone would not suffice. Led by the automobile club,
they therefore persuaded the city to delay enforcement, using the interval to
“educate”Angelenos to regard streets as motor thoroughfares.79
In E. B. Lefferts, the Automobile Club of Southern California had a
diplomatic leader who could package the threat to the car’s urban future as
a community safety issue and cultivate good relations with the city’s police
department. While admitting that “it is not particularly difficult to sell”
pedestrian control to “a population which is ‘motor-minded,’” he nonethe-
less orchestrated a meticulous sales campaign for the new rules. The auto
club distributed some printed publicity itself, and more through local oil
companies and the police. In the week before enforcement began, every
radio station in the city broadcast nightly “informative talks” on pedestrian
control so that “the radio audience had no escape.” The club also initiated
a bond-issue proposal to finance pedestrian tunnels that would protect
children on their walk to school. When voters approved it, the club sur-
veyed school neighborhoods and selected the first forty tunnel sites. These
passageways protected children and, according to Lefferts, “expedited
vehicular movement” on streets, promoting a new proposition: that pedes-
trians do not belong in streets.80
Like others before him, Lefferts found that to ensure compliance, “the
ridicule of their fellow citizens is far more effective than any other means
which might be adopted.81 Rather than fine jaywalkers, police blew their
whistles at them, attracting unwanted attention from passersby.At least two
82. “Jaywalking Leads to Jail,Los Angeles Times, 27 January 1925, 2:1.
83. Oscar Hewitt, “Motor Toll Cut, Traffic Speeded—in Los Angeles,Chicago Trib-
une, 10 January 1926, 22.
84. Lefferts, “Regulation of Pedestrians”; Lefferts, “Effective Regulation of Pedes-
trians.
85. In the late 1920s, under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Commerce, auto-
motive interests spread pedestrian-control techniques pioneered in Los Angeles. See
Norton (n. 31 above).
86. “Jaywalker Law Works; No Injuries,Los Angeles Times, 26 January 1925, 2:1. See
also “Confessions by a Jaywalker,” Los Angeles Times, 28 January 1925, 1:2.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
353
pedestrians, angered by this treatment, fought back physically and were
promptly arrested. At the sound of a whistle and “an admonition to return
to the sidewalk,” however, most “violators grinned sheepishly and scuttled
back to the curb.82 There, Lefferts said, the wrongdoer “shamefacedly”
found himself “facing a large gallery of amused people.” By refraining from
arrests, the police avoided antagonizing pedestrians and sidestepped the
risk that judges might use common-law precedents to cast doubts on the
legality of pedestrian control. Above all, however, the technique turned
enforcement into another form of “pedestrian education” not just for the
violator, but also for those witnessing the violation. After months of warn-
ings, police stepped up enforcement. By the winter of 1925–26, a reporter
found that pedestrians had “learned to obey the stop and go signals the
same as vehicles” and that “jaywalkers are arrested. 83
Lefferts promoted the Los Angeles way to national audiences. To ex-
plain his city’s relative success, he noted the importance of the social ele-
ment in technical problems. To a Chicago convention of the National Safety
Council in 1927 he explained: “We have recognized that in controlling traf-
fic we must take into consideration the study of human psychology, rather
than approach it solely as an engineering problem.” In pedestrian control,
this meant extending “ridicule” to pedestrian practices that were incompat-
ible with the motor age street.84 Through Lefferts’s promotion and the
backing of national motordom, the Los Angeles Traffic Code of 1925 be-
came—as McClintock had hoped—a model for cities across the country.85
As Chicago’s attempts at pedestrian control had shown, pedestrians
were unable or unwilling to negotiate streets within the narrow limits of
official regulations. Each side had power. Motorists, through superior
horsepower, could drive people off the street wherever police were not there
to stop them. This brute fact negated pedestrians’ legal right to signal auto-
mobiles to stop at crossings. The Los Angeles Times noted that because “no
pedestrian believed” cars would stop, this right went unexercised and
“nobody was hurt.86 Yet pedestrians could fight back with their superior
agility, entering streets anywhere they could manage. By granting pedestri-
ans certain rights, the Los Angeles way of pedestrian control attempted a
compromise between these extremes. On all busy city streets, however—
even in Los Angeles—practice did not live up to principle. As streets be-
came motor thoroughfares, most pedestrians conceded their rights wher-
ever motorists showed the least inclination to violate them, and most con-
tinued to cross the street wherever they thought they could safely do
so—law or no law.
The Legitimation of Jaywalking as a Word
Meanwhile, changing newspaper coverage was undermining old as-
sumptions about who belonged in the streets. Reflecting prevailing percep-
tions of the streets, most city newspapers had demonized automobiles for
accidents, routinely blaming motorists and giving little or no responsibility
to pedestrians (fig. 9). The threat of a speed-governor ordinance in Cincin-
nati convinced motordom that it had to challenge these assumptions. A
month after the successful fight against speed governors, safety expert
Charles W. Price gave the auto industry grounds for hope: “The whole
problem of the accident situation is still in the formative stage, awaiting the
leadership of some group of interests—such as the automotive indus-
tries.87 Success, however, would require a transformation of newspaper
accident coverage.
Auto manufacturer George M. Graham of the National Automobile
Chamber of Commerce (NACC) accepted Price’s challenge. Somehow, he
told his colleagues,“pedestrians must be educated to know that automobiles
have rights.” Graham explained that NACC, an industry group representing
all major manufacturers except Ford, could reconstruct the safety problem
through the press. Newspapers, he said, sometimes reported accident fatali-
ties as “‘Automobile Deaths’ ...whether the driver be responsible or not.” It
was time to challenge such practices.“To my mind,”Graham said,“it is a fair
question if the driver is actually responsible for more than half the cases.” He
objected to the depiction of pedestrians as innocent victims, claiming that
“in many cases the driver is a much-to-be-pitied victim.88
But what could NACC do about it? In some cities, local motordom had
long known how to influence coverage. Roy D. Chapin, a founder and chair-
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87. Price (n. 22 above), 1187–1190.
88. Graham, address to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Washington, D.C., 15
December 1924, published as “Cause and Prevention of Accidents,Journal of the Society
of Automotive Engineers 16 (January 1925): 12–13 (quote on 12). Graham, “Education,
Punishment, and Traffic Safety” (address, 14 February 1924), 2–3, in bound collection
marked “Pamphlets” (New York: National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, 1919–
1933), Library, United States Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.; re-
printed as Graham, “Stern Action Is Urged to Banish Death from Highways,Automotive
Industries 50 (28 February 1924): 495–98, 511 (quotes on 496 and 497). See also Graham,
“Safeguarding Traffic: A Nation’s Problem—a Nation’s Duty” (address, 23 September
1924), Annals 116 (November 1924): 179.
man of the Hudson Motor Company and later President Hoover’s secretary
of commerce, remembered one such case. Sometime around 1910 “the
Chicago Tribune would not mention the name of any motor car in its
columns. The dealers in Chicago simultaneously withdrew their advertising
from the Chicago Tribune. In a mighty short space of time that paper woke
up and promised to do almost anything if they could get the advertising, and
since that time they have been very decent in their attitude.89 Other papers
with big Sunday automobile sections became newsprint cheerleaders for
their sponsors.90 The Washington Star was on very friendly terms with the
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
355
89. Chapin to Hugh Chalmers, quoted in J.C. Long, Roy D. Chapin (privately pub-
lished presentation copy, 1945), 95.
90. The Cincinnati Enquirer and Los Angeles Times are cases in point. To the Los An-
geles Times, for example, a jaywalker was merely a person lacking “thrift enough to own
a car” (editorial,“Jaywalkers,” 1 April 1926, 4). In neither case, however, can a definitive
relationship between sponsorship by auto interests and editorial policy be proved, and in
FIG. 9 “Right of Might,” 1925. To many pedestrians, loss of access to the
streets was not a rational adaptation to new conditions but an unjust theft
perpetrated with superior horsepower. (Source: Winsor McCay, New York
Herald Tribune, 1925; reprinted in The Outlook 140 [29 July 1925], 445.)
American Automobile Association, which often used the paper, through
press releases, as a publicity agent. The paper frequently reprinted, verbatim,
articles written at AAA, without comment and under the names of Star
reporters.91 In 1923 the Chicago Motor Club began buying space in the Chi-
cago Tribune for periodic “Traffic Talks,” where it publicized findings pro-
porting to show that the “reckless pedestrian” caused “almost 90%” of the
collisions between automobiles and people. The solution? “Don’t jay walk.
It soon organized its own “accident prevention department” to collect and
interpret accident statistics for itself. In newspapers and on the radio, the
club used its findings for “berating the careless pedestrian.92
To reshape coverage coast to coast, Graham proposed a variation on
these techniques. Instead of purchasing space in dozens or hundreds of
newspapers, NACC launched a central accident news service. To “make
sure that the reporter gets and records the essential facts,” newspapers
reported accidents on blank forms NACC supplied.93 NACC assembled
completed forms, drawing its own conclusions about where blame lay. It
then reported its statistics back to the papers, together with proposals for
accident prevention.
Graham explained that motordom would thus “make the newspaper a
clearing house” for the industry’s “safety suggestions.” NACC hoped that
participating newspapers would “be influenced . . . to give greater publicity
to the real causes of traffic accidents.94 If it worked, the plan would put
NACC ahead of the National Safety Council as the most influential national
authority on traffic accidents. Even before the first filled-out accident forms
came back to NACC, Graham knew what they would prove: “In a majority
of automobile accidents the fault is with the pedestrian rather than with the
automobile driver.95
Those who carefully followed newspaper coverage of accident statistics
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Los Angeles, pro-automobile coverage might plausibly have been a fair reflection of
readers’ sympathies.
91. See Alfred G. Seiler, “Scrap Book,” catalogue no. A200 Am35s 1920–29, Head-
quarters Library, American Automobile Association, Heathrow, Florida. The author
gratefully acknowledges AAA for granting him free access to the AAA library in 1994; in
a 2005 visit, however, the author’s request for access was denied and the library’s exis-
tence was questioned.
92. Chicago Motor Club,“Who Is to Blame for Accidents?” (n. 50 above), and “The
Passing of Jay Walking” (“Traffic Talks no. 50”), Chicago Tribune, 18 September 1924, 22.
93. Graham, “Education, Punishment, and Traffic Safety,” 5; Graham, “Stern Action
is Urged,” 497.
94.“Trying to Get Newspapers to Tell Accident Causes,Automotive Industries 50 (17
January 1924): 125 (emphasis added); Graham, “Education, Punishment, and Traffic
Safety” (n. 88 above), 6. According to Automotive Industries, “The real purpose . . . is to
get the press to treat automobile accidents more fairly than in the past.
95. Graham, “Education, Punishment, and Traffic Safety,” 2–3.
perceived a change in tone within months. By November 1924, Bruce Cobb,
magistrate of New York City’s Traffic Court, noticed that “it is now the fash-
ion to ascribe from 70 to 90 per cent of all accidents to jaywalking.” News-
papers’ use of the word in 1924 alone seems to have matched or exceeded
their total use of it in all years prior to 1923.96 Cobb suspected the auto indus-
try’s influence was behind the new trend.“I am not sure,” he wrote, “but that
much of the blame heaped upon so-called ‘jaywalkers’ is but a smoke screen,
to hide motordom’s own shortcomings as well as to abridge the now existing
legal rights of the foot travelers on our streets.” Cobb was not easily misled—
accident figures, he knew, were “a matter of the viewpoint of the statisti-
cian”—but to others statistics bore almost scriptural authority.97
Months later, events in Washington, D.C., lent support to Cobb’s suspi-
cions. District commissioners appointed by Congress named AAA execu-
tive M. O. Eldridge the city’s traffic director, despite controversy over “the
danger of filling the new post with a person who might see only the auto-
mobile driver’s side of the question.98 The aggressive Eldridge wanted
police to force stubborn pedestrians back to the curb so that “the ridicule
of passing motorists and bystanders” would reform them. He elevated jay-
walker from slang to a word dignified by edict, defining it broadly as “any
pedestrian who undertakes to cross the stream of vehicular traffic on his
own responsibility when there is a signal or a policeman at the corner to
start and stop automobiles, or one who crosses in the middle of a block
under any circumstances not involving an emergency.99
But when Eldridge left Washington for a short vacation, his deputy I. C.
Moller changed course. “I think it is an unfortunate mistake to call pedes-
trians ‘jay walkers,’” he said.“Neither motorists, policemen, nor anyone else
should ridicule pedestrians. Our job is to protect persons using the streets,
not humiliate them. Traffic can be regulated without demeaning citizens.
Moller did not consider the motorist’s claim to the street superior to the
pedestrian’s, and feared that Eldridge’s campaign against jaywalkers would
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
357
96. A search of the New York Times,Wall Street Journal,Chicago Tribune,Los Angeles
Times, and Washington Post at http://proquest.umi.com results in 119 articles in which
any form of the word was used through 1922, and 124 uses in 1924 alone. Thus jaywalker
and its cognates remained rare in these newspapers even in 1924, but the rise in its fre-
quency reflects comparable growth in a much larger class of articles that assigned re-
sponsibility to pedestrians without using the word.
97. Cobb, in “Nation Roused against Motor Killings,”New York Times, 23 November
1924, 5.
98. “M. O. Eldridge Named Director of Traffic by Commissioners,Washington Post,
21 March 1925, 1; “4 New Candidates for Traffic Chief Entered in Field,Washington
Post, 11 March 1925, 16.
99. “Eldridge to Ban ‘Jaywalkers’ Here; Backed by Chiefs,Washington Post, 4 August
1925, 20; “83 Men and Women Pedestrians Seized in Drive by Police,Washington Post,
31 December 1925, 1–2.
give pedestrians “the idea that we are trying to slow them down in order to
speed up motor vehicle traffic at their expense.100 In a later compromise
between the two men (presumably after a tense but unrecorded clash), El-
dridge dropped official use of “jaywalker,”but ordered that offenders be ar-
rested. “I hope they land in jail,” he told reporters. Police soon arrested
eighty-three pedestrians; forty-five showed up in court. The judge found all
of them guilty, but released them on condition that they join the “Careful
Walkers’ Club”he formed on the spot. After their solemn membership oath
to obey pedestrian regulations, the judge let them go.101
But Eldridge’s tactical retreat did not slow the advance of jaywalker as a
term. By then, safety weeks had introduced the word to the millions. Fre-
quent use blunted its once-sharp edge, and it was passing into acceptable
usage as a term for renegade pedestrians who would not concede their old
rights to the street, even in the dawning motor age. In 1924, soon after the
boisterous publicity of city safety weeks, jaywalker first appeared in a stan-
dard American dictionary. The entry officially conferred upon the word its
new, motor age definition: “One who crosses a street without observing the
traffic regulations for pedestrians.102
By sponsoring safety education in schools, motordom made the next
generation enemies of jaywalking. By the late 1920s AAA led the field in
classroom safety instruction. A feature of the new safety education during
these years was orchestrated peer pressure.103 In 1925 1,300 Detroit school
children gathered to witness the public trial of a twelve-year-old accused of
“jay walking”; the student jury convicted the defendant, sentencing him to
wash school blackboards for a week.104 In 1930 a Texas junior high school
pupil convicted of jaywalking by his young peers was ordered to write an
essay titled “Why I Should Not Jay Walk,” in which he had to explain that
jaywalking “is aginist the rules of the city and the school.”105
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100. “Moller Opposes ‘Jay Walker’ Term for Pedestrians,”Washington Post, 19 August
1925, 20.
101. “Walkers Ignoring Traffic Rule, Say Police Officials,Washington Post,29
December 1925, 22; “83 Men and Women Pedestrians Seized in Drive by Police,” 2.
102. The Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language (New York, 1924),
620. The editors did not classify the word as slang or colloquial, though some later dic-
tionaries did. In 1936, in the first new edition of its unabridged dictionary since 1895,
Webster’s classified jaywalk as colloquial and defined it as: “To cross a street carelessly or
at an unusual or inappropriate place, or in a dangerous, or illegal, direction, so as to be
endangered by the traffic” (Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Lan-
guage [n. 75 above], 1331).Variations of the new, restricted definition appeared in other
American English dictionaries during the 1930s.
103. On the transformation of school safety education during the middle and late
1920s, see Norton (n. 31 above), chap. 8.
104. “School Kids Sit in Judgment on Jay Walking Companions,”Chicago Tribune,8
March 1925, A11.
105. A. L. Morgan, “Pupil Participation in School Control,” Peabody Journal of Edu-
cation 7 (1930): 268.
Many continued to cross streets on foot where and how they pleased,
but by 1930 most agreed that pedestrians who obstructed vehicles were jay-
walkers. Bessie Buckley’s question had been answered: except at crosswalks,
most busy streets were for vehicles only. Because jaywalker condemned the
action it described, its admission to official and unofficial lexicons meant
that perceptions of streets had changed. As some misuses became newly
legitimate uses, old customs became new misuses. Former ways persisted,
especially in residential neighborhoods; about 1960, the vitality of pedes-
trian life in the streets of Boston’s North End impressed Jane Jacobs. But in
the typical city street, Jacobs observed that “all but the most minimum
pedestrian needs are gradually and steadily sacrificed.106 The legitimation
of jaywalking as a term corresponded to its fall into disrepute as a practice.
This crucial step toward the reconstruction of city streets as motor thor-
oughfares marked the dawn of the motor age in the American city.
NORTONK|KJaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street
359
106. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York, 1961), 33,
346.
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The need for an integrated social constructivist approach towards the study of science and technology is outlined. Within such a programme both scientific facts and technological artefacts are to be understood as social constructs. Literature on the sociology of science, the science-technology relationship, and technology studies is reviewed. The empirical programme of relativism within the sociology of scientific knowledge and a recent study of the social construction of technological artefacts are combined to produce the new approach. The concepts of `interpretative flexibility' and `closure mechanism', and the notion of `social group' are developed and illustrated by reference to a study of solar physics and a study of the development of the bicycle. The paper concludes by setting out some of the terrain to be explored in future studies.
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Technology and Culture 40.3 (1999) 545-575 Mulholland Highway, a twisting 22-mile roadway along the ridgetops of the Hollywood Hills (fig. 1), meant different things to the real estate investors who first promoted it, to the engineers who designed it and supervised its construction, and to the property owners who encountered the environmental effects of its completion. "The property in the district is owned by a small group of capitalists who expect to be rewarded for their enterprise by the subdivision of the frontage on the highway into building sites," wrote the trade journal for the region's construction industry. But Mulholland Highway did not raise property values and development opportunities in the hills and the adjacent San Fernando Valley until a generation later than anticipated, when its original advocates were no longer in a position to benefit. The reasons are apparent in retrospect: the highway created a cul-de-sac rather than a connection with the principal roads of the growing city, and the threat of fire and landslide in the chaparral environment of the hills discouraged development and settlement. Despite the known fire threat and the city's established practice of integrating the construction of highways and underground utilities, the roadbuilding project did not incorporate [Begin Page 547] provision for water mains. The fire hazard only surfaced in the proceedings when the city engineering staff sought a pretext for accelerated administrative procedures, and it still did not cause modification of the design or construction. The disjunction between the expectations of its promoters and what the engineers produced was so extreme that the promoters petitioned to close the road barely five years after raising a million dollars to complete it. This disparity cannot be explained away as unanticipated consequences because, for one thing, the engineers knew the consequences even as they conducted the work. For another, they pursued the project with uncommon fervor, even making successful requests for dispensation from standard administrative practices. What did the engineers want? If they were not simply compliant technicians leashed to the aims of business and political elites, how did they decide what to build? During the approval process and the construction itself, the city engineers left a record of their aspirations in testimony to the city council, in departmental reports, and in naming the highway after William Mulholland, the principal figure in the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the founder of municipal engineering practice in the city. As John A. Griffin, head of the city's engineering department, wrote: "It is named as a tribute and to be built as a monument to a great engineer, 'Our Bill,' Bill Mulholland, the builder of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the one man among all others who put our beloved City of Los Angeles on the map." They also left the record of the road itself, an expressive if not articulated statement by engineers who, for the most part, spoke with their shovels. To the city engineering department, Mulholland Highway was a massive reordering of the natural environment that followed in several ways the pattern of the engineers' greatest triumph, the Los Angeles (or Owens Valley) Aqueduct, which opened in 1913 and carried water 233 miles to the city from the eastern Sierras. The highway accorded with the engineers' sense of beauty in the landscape, an aspect of engineering that historian David Nye has described as the "technological sublime." Its construction engineer, Dewitt Reaburn, described one aspect of this aesthetic when he extolled the vantage points that the road would afford: "In driving over the completed portion of the highway, one is charmed and amazed at the wonderful view of the surrounding country, which is continually changing as the vision sweeps from one side of the summit to the other. The Mulholland Highway is destined to be the heaviest traveled and one of the best known scenic roads in the United States." Creating vistas for scenic motoring was a conscious goal in much of the parkway construction throughout the nation in the 1920s and 1930s. As their name implied, however, parkways also were thorough, polished designs in their own right, with picturesque light fixtures and railings as well as...
Article
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Technology and Culture 41.1 (2000) 51-79 Figures In 1979, the New York City Planning Commission proposed a new vision for mass transit on the streets of Manhattan. The commission proposed to replace sixty-eight crosstown buses on Forty-second Street with twelve electric streetcars, which, asserted the commission, would run twice as fast with lower operating costs, and without noxious exhaust fumes. Ironically, streetcars had in fact rolled along Forty-second Street until 1946, and city officials had hailed as progress the replacement of Manhattan's trolleys with diesel or gasoline buses. Moreover, the 1979 commission proposed to replace the buses of the New York City Transit Authority with a light rail system operated by a private company, whereas several New York City administrations in the 1920s and 1930s had worked to substitute municipally operated for privately owned transit. It is no coincidence that vehicle type and operating authority were debated simultaneously in both cases. A fight over vehicle type often represents just the top layer of a deep conflict over who is to provide urban transit under what terms. Though transit executives, politicians, and other players boasted of the technical advantages of bus or streetcar, many cared more about regulation, taxation, and ownership than the merits of rubber tires or steel rails. Their decisions to abandon streetcars, in New York and in other cities throughout the United States, cannot be explained either by inherent technical advantages of buses or the conspiracies of bus manufacturers. Rather, the bitter antagonism between transit companies and local politicians moved both the companies and the politicians toward support of the bus as a means to rewrite old rules. They understood that the eight decades of tradition, custom, and regulation fettering the street railway had not yet gripped the new machine. As one upstart bus company put it, "the bus is young and honest." The current historical debate over the motorization of mass transit in the United States began in earnest in 1974 with the publication and presentation to the United States Senate of American Ground Transport by Bradford Snell. Snell charged that General Motors had destroyed mass transit in the United States by purchasing controlling shares of electric railways and converting them to diesel bus operation, not only to sell more GM buses but to weaken mass transit, forcing Americans into GM cars. In his report, Snell disparages the bus. "Due to their high cost of operation and slow speed on congested streets . . . these buses ultimately contributed to the collapse of several hundred public transit systems and to the diversion of hundreds of thousands of patrons to automobiles." Snell's thesis remains alive both in scholarly literature and in popular culture. Many books and journal articles uncritically cite American Ground Transport. David St. Clair's Motorization of American Cities fills in Snell's sketchy arguments with additional evidence. Using aggregated data for the years 1935-50, St. Clair compares streetcars, trolley coaches (rubber-tired buses powered by electricity drawn from overhead wires), and motor buses and finds "the streetcar was more economical than the motor bus, at least on the more heavily patronized lines," and that only an intent to weaken public transit can explain motorization. Snell has his critics. General Motors defended itself in 1974 by noting that the decision to abandon streetcars preceded GM's investment in transit companies and citing early movement toward buses in both Los Angeles and New York. Historian Sy Adler bluntly complains that "everything Bradford Snell wrote in American Ground Transport about transit in Los Angeles is wrong," attributing the abandonment of passenger interurbans there to a desire to use their rails for freight service. In their studies of Los Angeles and Chicago, respectively, Scott Bottles and Paul Barrett blame a transit industry characterized in 1900 by monopolistic practices, unsavory "traction barons," and crowded, decrepit streetcars. They argue that buses slowed, rather than hastened, the decline of mass transit. Donald F. Davis adds that many riders preferred buses to streetcars, and the short life span of individual buses may actually have been an advantage since it gave passengers more chances to ride new vehicles. Martha Bianco's study of Portland, Oregon, takes a middle ground...
Education, Punishment, and Traffic Safety " (address, 14 February 1924), 2–3, in bound collection marked " Pamphlets.; reprinted as Graham Stern Action Is Urged to Banish Death from Highways See also Graham Safeguarding Traffic: A Nation's Problem—a Nation's Duty
December 1924, published as " Cause and Prevention of Accidents, " Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers 16 (January 1925): 12–13 (quote on 12). Graham, " Education, Punishment, and Traffic Safety " (address, 14 February 1924), 2–3, in bound collection marked " Pamphlets " (New York: National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, 1919– 1933), Library, United States Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.; reprinted as Graham, " Stern Action Is Urged to Banish Death from Highways, " Automotive Industries 50 (28 February 1924): 495–98, 511 (quotes on 496 and 497). See also Graham, " Safeguarding Traffic: A Nation's Problem—a Nation's Duty " (address, 23 September 1924), Annals 116 (November 1924): 179.
Discussion on Traffic Hazards Jay-Walking Campaign Is a Big Success Grand Rapids Herald
  • J C Townsend
J. C. Townsend, quoted in " Discussion on Traffic Hazards, " in Proceedings of the National Safety Council, Tenth Annual Safety Congress, Boston, 26–30 September 1921, 593. 65. Nick Woltjer, " Jay-Walking Campaign Is a Big Success, " Grand Rapids Herald, 12
address to the Society of Automotive Engineers
  • Graham
Graham, address to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Washington, D.C., 15
5:3; Philip Vyle to editor, " Pedestrians' Rights Ignored
  • Jay Walker
June 1921, 5:3; Philip Vyle to editor, " Pedestrians' Rights Ignored, " New York Times, 6 July 1925, 10. 67. " A Jay Walker Law " (editorial), Chicago Tribune, 14 July 1927, 8.
City-Wide War Is Declared on Death Drivers
  • Magistrate Costello
Magistrate Costello, Philadelphia, 8 November 1924, quoted in " City-Wide War Is Declared on Death Drivers, " Philadelphia Public Ledger, 9 November 1924, 4. 25. " Street Accidents, " New York Times, 2 December 1915, 10.
A History of New York City's Bureau of Public SafetyMake April Safe' Was Philadelphia's Slogan
  • Barron Collier
  • Stopping Street Accidents
Barron Collier, Stopping Street Accidents: A History of New York City's Bureau of Public Safety (New York, 1925), 114. 63. " 'Make April Safe' Was Philadelphia's Slogan, " Electric Railway Journal 69 (1927): 809, 811. See also National Safety Council, Seven Days for Safety (Chicago, 1930), 14–15.