Monday, December 5, 2011

The problem isn't automobiles, but the need for transportation.

And looking back to horses, is not a solution, because they were never a good solution in the first place, which is why they were replaced by automobiles.
"Nowadays there is a myth that the city streets, so patently inadequate for floods of automobiles, are antiquated vestiges of horse and buggy conditions, suitable to the traffic of their time, but...

Nothing could be less true..."
The Death of The Great American City page 340

The following is from the British Architectural Review December 1958, found and copied from this web site

"London of 1890:

"The Strand of those days...was the throbbing heart of the people's essential London...But the mud! [a euphemism] And the noise! And the smell! All these blemishes were [the] mark of [the] horse.... The whole of London's crowded wheeled traffic - which in parts of the City was at times dense beyond movement - was dependent on the horse lorry: wagon, bus, hansom and `growler', and coaches and carriages and private vehicles of all kinds, were appendages to horses...the characteristic aroma - for the nose recognized London with gay excitement - was of stables, which were commonly of three or four storeys with inclined ways zigzagging up the faces of them; [their] middens kept the cast-iron filigree chandeliers that glorified the reception rooms of upper- and lower-middle-class homes throughout London encrusted with dead flies, and, in late summer, veiled with living clouds of them.

A more assertive mark of the horse was the mud that, despite the activities of a numberous corps of red-jacketed boys who dodged among wheels and hooves with pan and brush in service to iron bins at the pavement-edge, either flooded the streets with churnings of `pea soup' that at times collected in pools over-brimming the kerbs, and at others covered the road surface as with axle grease or bran-laden dust to the distraction of the wayfarer. In the first case, the swift-moving hansom or gig would fling sheets of such soup - where not intercepted by trousers or skirts - completely across the pavement, so that the frontages of the Strand throughout its length had an eighteen-inch plinth of mud-parge thus imposed upon it. The pea-soup condition was met by wheeled `mud-carts' each attended by two ladlers clothed as for Icelandic seas in thigh boots, oilskins collared to the chin, and sou'westers sealing in the back of the neck. Splash Ho! The foot passenger now gets the mud in his eye! The axle-grease condition was met by horse mechanized brushes and travellers in the small hours found fire-hoses washing away residues....

And after the mud the noise, which, again endowed by the horse, surged like a mighty heart-beat....and the hammering of a multitude, of iron-shod hairy heels..., the deafening, side-drum tatoo of tyred wheels jarring from the apex of one set to the next like sticks dragging along a fence; the creaking and groaning and chirping and rattling of vehicles, light and heavy, thus maltreated; the jangling of chain harness and the clanging or jingling of every other conceivable thing else, augmented by the shrieking and bellowings called for from those of God's creatures who desired to impart information or proffer a request vocally - raised a din that... is beyond conception. It was not any such paltry thing as noise. It was an immensity of sound...."

Those who nostalgically long for the past as the author of the following linked to article does, to wit :"Indeed, when one contrasts the beauty and majesty of the horse with the demonic appearance and sound of the motor car", are de facto longing for filth, for disease and for high child mortality.

From Horse Power to Horsepower

1 comment:

  1. 1. Horses vs. cars is a false dichotomy. The glory days of urban life were the brief 30-year window of streetcars (coupled with the advent of piped water and sewer) in the first three decades of the 20th century.

    2. While asphalt is an improvement over mud, the increased width and speeds of modern streets over old are not, and the 1958 piece indicates nothing about either being prevalent during the horse days.