tv Lectures in History CSPAN September 2, 2016 9:16am-10:34am EDT
to the historic grounds and gardens and we were able to present that to mr. ruben stein and he very generously donated to make it happen. >> now on histories of technology. this class looks at what is called america's love affair with the automobile. exploring the impact of cars on american cities in the second half of the 20th century. this includes the destruction of niebz for new highways and a significant change in the character and structural density of downtowns to accommodate parking decks and surface lots. this class is an hour and ten minutes. >> i'd like to start with a question. i want a clear answer.
from you all about which one of these is best. think about it a second. which one, we've got a paper clip, binder and a stapler. which one is best? which one is best? >> it's not that hard. which one is best? we have an intellectual in the room. i'm looking for someone with an answer. >> which one is best, david. >> stapler. >> you're wrong. if the stapler is not best, jack, which one is best. >> wrong again. the right answer is the binder clip. the binder clip is in my opinion the best. all right. i will admit as she points out if i had a 100 page document too fasten, binder clip would be
best. stapler is not going to do the job very well. on the other hand, if i want to fa fasten a receipt to a note, maybe i need the paper clip. in effect, i'm coming around to her answer. depends on what we're talking about here. we are up against a point of view that takes these things and says one is definitely best. the reading contends the bottom device is just plain best. greatest invention. wherever you are on a rural highway, city street, in a shopping mall, going to a store, going to work. that is your device. the rest are perhaps not obsolete after all the author is a cyclist, but bear no comparison to these things.
well, i guess if i had to reduce my climb to a thesis, it's that wrong turns out each one of these things has its place and more. we're coming along with you guys. coming up with more stuff all the time. electric bicycles for example or high bus transit. all kinds of things are possible and depending what you need, you may want to take one of these other modes. i would suggest people who say this is always best are the same people who if we could ever see them trying too fasten together a 100 page document would probably be banging this with a hammer. doesn't make sense. it's wasteful. inefficient. breaks the stapler, doesn't do the report any good. doesn't document and accomplishes nothing. i would suggest there are situations in which we in this country in trying to accommodate the automobile are doing essentially the same thing. i'm going to recommend you try
something sometime. maybe you've already done this. go to google satellite view. everybody has something on the web that kills their spare time or even kills time that isn't spare time. for me, google satellite view is a major culprit in that regard. if you go there, take a look around american cities. this is houston. it's not a totally random shot, but nevertheless, i find it striking. i'm actually wondering, what are these people parking for? to go to another parking space? there's nothing else to go to. there's a building on the top left-hand corner. maybe they're all going there. that's a lot of parking. this about parking for a moment. think about the thing that is most distinctly valuable in a city. it's land. city by definition is a place of dense si.
right. if density is what we're talking about, then land is scars. why don't we put a car on every 100 square feet of land in a city and this is what you'll get. i wonder if this is like trying to fasten a 200 page report with a stapler and a hammer. this is houston as well. how the cars got to the parking lots. they went on this interstate highway. this is indianapolis. may not immediately jump at you, but the f you look carefully you'll sigh a lee a lot of surf parl parking lots here. strange thing to do with a city. there we have tyson's corner. this is the mills. here we have atlanta. not only do we see cars parked off the street everywhere, we also see major interstate
highways accommodating cars at extraordinary expense. this is like taking your stapler and 200 page report and getting a sledge hammer to force that staple there. at least that's one way of possibly looking at this. our reading for today says to the contrary, this is something we accommodate. the automobile is something we accommodate because it is so valuable to our economy, to our society, to the freedom of residents. it's worth it. he's not saying it's not costly in some senses. it is costly, but it's worth it. for example, look at the economic benefit. more jobs. more income for people. of course being a good skeptical reader look for the data myself. if you look, you'll see cars and trucks in the u.s. increasing in numbers from 1960 on the left to
2010 on the right. you can loosely correlate that to gdp. the curves are not the same, but they're both going up. maybe u.s. gdp growth from 1960 to 2010 is attributable in large part to the growth of cars and trucks. at least that's possible. on the other hand, if you're a skeptical reader, you should see if it correlates with other things, for example the growth of the number of mcdonald's. if anything, the correlation is slightly better. maybe we should say u.s. gdp breath from 2010 was caused by the growth of mcdonald's. or maybe we could do the causal analysis the other way around and maybe the growth explains the growth in the number of cars and trucks. i'm let you decide which is more plausible. all right. so that's one way of looking at it. also our author for today also contends that the car has social
value that's not economically obvious. if it's truly socially valuable as the author contends, maybe it's worth the cost. for example, according to o'toole, the automobile was an indispensable means of women's liberation and civil rights move. i think it's helpful to check. check your sources. if we go back and look, i think feminists would agree these three women were monumentally important, at least the first two were on the left. jane jacobs, one of the leading lights in city planning. you cannot get through your first year of city planning school without reading jane jacobs life and death of great american cities. all right. we also have here maybe somebody recognizes, betty fredan. the single most important book
most people would say of second wing feminism published in 1963. nobody is going to recognize hel helen levit, but what these women have in common is that all of them were depending on which one you mean, at least skeptical or outright hostile to the suburbanization trend that the automobile is connected with. jane jacobs was a defender of urban density and said cities are dense places. we don't need to suburbanize everything. what makes cities thrive is pedestrians. what makes cities thrive is dead city. if we try to make a suburb out of the city, we ruin all that. that's what made the book the single most significant work in american city planning. most city planners would agree that's true.
feminine mystique, she's writing a 1963, the housewife located in the suburbs while her husband goes to work is in. there's a controversial analogy. called it a comfortable concentration camp. she felt unfree in the suburbs. one response is she should get a car. now we're talking about not only a world where every adult has a car instead of every home, but also a world that was unrealistic in 1973 when she wrote the book. o'toole says the car gave us better social equity, but how could it argue this when it was not economically possible for most couples to have two cars. all right. and in an age when men were expected to be the breadwinner, he takes the car and she's left alone. so she was not a fan as the car as a tool of women's liberation. helen levit.
although i doubt anyone has heard of her. if you're from nova or d.c., you should. you all know about i 95 i'm sure. what you probably don't know is if you look at the blue prints for i-95 from the late '50s to the early '60s when they were designing this, i-95 was not supposed to go around washington on the beltbeltway. it was supposed to go through it unsbrumted right through washington, d.c. wisconsin avenue and a block on either side of wisconsin arodys vizcaino avenue, everything was going to be levelled. helen levit fought this tooth and nail. she investigated it. decided it was a super hoax. wrote this book. it was a significant seller in its day.
that's 1970. what's more significant is i'm sure you've all heard of the interstate highway system. something else you might not know about it is this, on the book there was supposed to be 42, 500 miles. it never got there because of the violent -- i shouldn't use the word violent. vehement opposition to it in america's cities. some were built. the opposition was intense. so intense it spread that finally they had to give up trying to build the you shall ban segments of u.s. highway system. in that movement, many -- i don't have the numbers, but probably most of the active leaders were women. women spear headed the movement against the freeways in the cities. and these pictures while they don't prove it, give you a taste for that connection, that women
saw urban interstates as dangerous. you see this also in remember jane jacobs author of death and life in american cities, the planners of her day which includes the highway engineers, she saw as people who were ravrgeing the cities. helen levit put it this way. now, i don't think we have seen a case for women having welcomed the automobile as women's liberation. i'm not saying that have none did. surely some did, but it was a mixed story, at best. the same could be said about the role of the automobile in the american city from the point of view of african-americans, all right. here we see a neighborhood of miami called overtown. overtown was nick naked the harlem of the south because all the businesses were black owned. the residences were all black. thriving black community. i'm using the past tense in
showing you an old picture because this is overtown in the mid '60s. there's nothing left. angers in every direction has been totally destroyed to make room for the southern end of interstate 95. this does not to me make a case for the interstate highways or cars in general having been a tool of civil rights. it is definitely true that without the car, it could not have successfully organized the montgomery busboy cot of 1955, but clearly the story is more complicate ed than that. overtown is a case in point. you could look at almost any american city and reach the same conclusion. this is a sign that was carried around in the protest against these projects in american cities in the '60s. everyone has heard of the civil rights movement.
not many people know about this aspect of it. the anti-urban highway aspect of it. here is detroit. on the left we see a neighborhood called paradise valley. like overtown. virtually 100% black. 100% black owned businesses, and yet when this picture was taken in 1964, it was already mostly gone. this was a city block, left to right, up and done. making room for i-75. the chrysler freeway in detroit. totally destroyed paradise valley. the little bit that was left was unsustainable and quickly dec decayed. now, let me share an observation i've made with you that might be interesting. you know, as a historian, i'm sort of interested many what people know a lot about and what people haven't heard of. i've noticed a lot of people have heard of the riots of 1960s. there was a riot in detroit in
1967 that was the worst riot of the 20th century until the 1994 logs angle lolos angeles riots. 40-50 people were killed. lasted several days. what people don't seem to know is that it happened almost immediately after this happened. this is the chrysler freeway in detroit under construction. everything you see used to be part of paradise valley and here we see the riots that broke out months later in the summer of 1967. i ha haven't proved a connectio but i think when you droi a city and its neighborhood, don't be surprised if you encounter trouble after that. i'm not at all persuaded we see the automobile as the key to civil rights the way the author for today portrays it. there's another group that o'toole doesn't mention, but i
believe belongs in any discussion about the social aspects of this. here's where i'm going to bring in an english guy. his name is william bird. he's a medical doctor in britain. he was interested in declining independent mobility among children in britain. he as a medical doctor observed that physical and mental health in children correlate strongly with that i reca with their activity level and mobility. can they go on their own outside to play and can they go very far. in this report, he has a great deal of data to show declining mobility in children in britain, which correlates, i think, to declining mobility of children in america, but for an audience like you all, i think the most compelling bit of evidence, even though it's not the most
conclusive is this simple study of one family, four generations. so these are four generations. in other words, edwards mother is vickie, vickies father is jack. jack's father is george. those years are the years when those people were eight years old. and one of the many data points that william bird put together was when he asked them, and they're all alive so he could ask them, to plot on a map their home and the farthest place they could go to as an unescorted eight-year-old. he found george could go six miles and did. he liked to go six miles is a long walk. six miles each way on foot george would walk. jack was only going a mile. one-sixth of that. that was twice as much of vickie who went half a mile? 1979. to me the clencher is edward is
going 300 yards maximum unescorted as an eight-year-old. 300 yards. that's a major decline as you can see in the chart. this is one family. it's a sample size of one or four, depending how you look at it. i'm not making any pretenses that this is conclusive data. i am claiming however this is not at all atypical of a trend you find both in britain and the united states over time. there are reasons for this. you guys have lived this yourselves. i have as well. i want to ask you all why, why this decline? there's multiple reasons. what's one of them? herbert? can you think of one? >> i guess you could say the development of neighbors are more like densely, houses are more densely situated now. >> houses are more densely
situated now so why would that make -- so it's not as far to walk because -- okay. that sounds plausible. . how about another possibility. >> just lsafety. the chances of edward being hit by a car is far greater than george. >> very true. i want to point out this is britain: even in 1926, he would have been in danger of being hit by a car in america, but in britain, cars were rare. his danger of being hit by a car was not high. you can see that changed. jack, you know, his parntd par concerned and rightly so about him getting hit by a car. i want to point out as a parent i'm not advocating anybody let their child walk 6 miles away from home unescorted. i think that's nuts. it's not an attempt to defend that. it is a claim perhaps this has gone a little far.
300 yards, we practically disabled our own children when we can't go more than 300 yards. there's also safety, ab durkss or attacks of kinds. there's more. it has to do with the geography. let me offer a geographic point. this is a street plan or aerial view of a typical american subdivision of the late 20th century. i think you can see that if for example you lived on the cul-de-sac on the far right and you were eight years old and you wanted to walk to a friend's house on the next street over, while you might be able to get there directly by trespassing, if you weren't going to trespass, you would have a very long way to walk. if you had an old fashioned street grid, you would have a much shorter walk. therefore the point is why
people walked longer distances. yes, it's a longer distance here, but turns out to be less likely to walk at all if you have to walk that far to get to a close house. this is a street plan that makes a lot of sense from a driver's point of view. the intersections are much rarer in a grid. as a driver, the intersections are where all the delays happen. if you have fewer intersections, you have fewer delays. better for a driver. if you're walking, a little drimpbt. i don't want to say it's all one sided. they're kind of nice if your friend lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac. that's great. if he lives in another cul-de-sac, you're kind of in trouble. i think this diagram made it more clear. this is a child who if they walked to school would have to take a very roundabout way or tress pa trespass.
a lot of kids trespass. i did myself. with the grid, maybe you didn't have to. this reminded me of a personal experience myself. i spent four years of my childhood in montgomery county maryland where there are a lot of subdivisions of this kind. and belong to one of these facebook groups that you'll all join when you're getting nostalgic for the old days too. this one is about montgomery county and the kids were remembering the black path. what's going on here, they're showing in the red line here, paths that did not exist on any map that nobody had made except for the kids themselves. what they did was overcome the restrictions of the cul-de-sac plans by forging their own illegal, what we called, black pa paths, and you got certain amount of status points for taking these things. they were a little creepy and
scary and so on. this person who posted this was rem miss iniscing about the blah being the lifeline to the rest of the world. once the kid gets to a street, they might have this to face. so our eight-year-old who made it out of the residential subdivision gets here. i hope no parent ever lets their eight yield get to this point unescorted or to this one. if you learn anything from 45 h you you learn to take point of different social groups. this street in ashville north carolina is a nice one. a older one or flail orail one, is absolute barrier to mobility. when you hear about mobility, ask mobility for whom? on the left or in both of these, we see high mobility for
drivers. we see something close to zero mobility for any child or disabled person or perhaps old person who wants to cross this street. all right. so not only should we talk about the women's mouchlt and civil rights. i think we should talk about children too when we talk about mobility. i want to recognize another thesis. it's not one that o'toole explicitly references. i think he'd be sympathetic to it. it's one we have to reckon with. it is probably the most common explanation for why america accommodates cars even in dense cities at almost any expense. i'm not persuaded by it, but we need to recognize this thesis. at the top we see a google search bar. this is a real google search bar i just did a screen shot of. at america's lo, we see auto complete kicking in.
guessing i mean america's lost treasures. when i had a v, i knew before i tried it what would pop up. maybe you've heard of this too. the reason i'm using this google example is auto completely is pretty good at telling us what is popular out there. this is a popular explanation. so what do you think is going to happen if we had a v. who knows the answer. >> i've heard the phrase america's love affair with automobile. >> you got it. sometimes america needs to explain to me america's lover boys. i don't know what that is. america's love affair with the automobile is probably the most single common thesis to explain the extraordinary extent to which the united states accommodated automobiling wherever they go, including dense cities. it's a thesis with a history.
and it's a very significant history. i hope time will permit me to touch on what that history is. first i need to go slightly different direction. if we look around in the media, we see this thesis ever where. notice in all of these headlines, we see love affair, love affair. why is this so ubiquitous. it's incredible. this thesis is just about everywhere. it has a history which as you all know -- i checked this little bump here. just noise. move to the right. has a fairly steep takeoff beginning circa '59, '6 0. if we had america's love affair with the car. if you hadded the red bar to the
blue bar, the growth actually continues right up to the present, although not as steep as it did in the '60s. this thesis is everywhere. its used by both the critics and the defenders of the automobile. now, america's love affair with the automobile is not a very scholarly sounding explanation, but social scientists, i think you can see what kind of explanation it would be in a more skcholarly co lly costume. which social science is implicated when you're talking about america's love affair with the automobile. what social science is being deployed here in an explanatory way? political science? there's something sociological about it because we're talking
about american society. sociologist are interested in the universals about society. when you're talking about particular societies, we're now talking about -- we're not talking about individuals or individual psychology or even really social psychology. we're talking about a culture -- it's an tra poll apology here folks. when you hear the phrase america's love affair. it's not being deployed explicitly, but a cultural explanation. as a cultural explanation, it's explicitly an ant explanation. most people would like to have a status symbol of practical value like the car all over the world, right, so illustration, some of you might recognize this as rush hour in beijing in the '70s.
this is rush hour in the beijing in the '70s. this means in the '70s, you might plausibly be able to say cars are an american thing. right? amazing that as late as 1970, 70% of all the cars in the world, wrap your mind around this. 70% of all the cars in the world were in united states. here's shanghai rush hour now. i think we could say there's a chinese love affair with the car too. if we kept going around the world, everybody loves a car once they can afford one. so that's -- it's not really distinctly american thing. it's a sociologist would have more to say about this than an ant row poll gist would. there's a lot explanation for the car. this report typed up in 1974 by
bradford offered another explanation for the city accommodating cars. it's not an explanation that's widely held in suckcircles, buts widely known. he contended that general motors, ford, and chrysler really subverted urban transportation. first of all, they agreed to cooperate with each other. that is not to compete the way you're supposed to in a free markets. once they did that, together with other automotive interest groups, they combined together to sub merit to automobiles. specifically general motors, firestone tire and rubber and standard oil founded a holding company called national city lines and really did this and national city line s bought up electric railways and once it owned them scrapped them and had
them replaced with general motors bussings which were riding on firestone tires and burning fuel. and all of this is true. in fact there was an anti-trust lawsuit filed against the conspirators here and found guilty of one count of conspiracy against competition. fined, but where this falls short as an explanation is that by the time national city lines bought up electric street railways got them on the cheap because they were mostly bankrupt or in trouble, losing money, in the red. the question has to be how did they end up in such bad shape before the groups got together rather than explaining it all as bradford does with this case. this is -- if you're thinking about what this would be as a research paper, this would be a couple of sentences in the literature of you which is all really need to dispense with
that particular argument. okay. there's another explanation for the auto mw automotive city. it's one o'toole comes to explicitly endorsing. that is the automobile prodominates in america pretty much everywhere, except manhattan because of the free market. it's a free market choice. it's the same reason -- take for example vhs beta and tapes and video tapes and also of people say, well, actually beta was better, right, and yet you wouldn't then say well, they should have made vhs illegal so beta could win. that's not how we do things. we're supposed to let the market decide. by the same token, you may not like cars everywhere, you may not think they're a great fit with cities, but the market in its wisdom has spoken. people drive and in driving they
express a market preference for driving over other modes of transportation. deal with it. all right. so there's sort of the argument. and essential to this argument is the claim that people who drive driving theoretically? sorry? charlie? >> they pay it ultimately through taxes because there's gas taxes and registration. >> gas taxes and registration fees and these costs. a lot of them in many cases, most of them end up being spent on roads and, therefore, there's a connection. when you drive you have to buy fuel. when you buy fuel you pay gas tax. when you pay gas tax you are making a market decision, the same as when you buy a certain brand of pen in the store. you are making a free decision in a marketplace. now it's actually very controversial the extent to which drivers pay for the costs of the infrastructure that they use.
i chose these two reports as representing opposite polls of the extreme. on the left we have a report by ruben who says, yeah, the answer is mostly yes. you know, although in 28 states you pay somewhat less than the costs you impose. in 23 states you pay essentially the costs you impose, but we're even a little more in some cases. and nationally, that is the federal highway expenditures for the interstate highways you pay for them as well. so that's the strongest case i could find for saying you pay for it. even that case doesn't come close to saying you pay the full cost as a driver. this on the right from the public interest research group contends that you don't come anywhere close to paying the costs of the roads. and i'm going to say actually, we don't even have to worry about this debate because there's plenty more reasons for not accepting the claim that there's a free market for the
mode of transportation you choose. i don't think we're anywhere close to having a free market for the mode of transportation you choose. the assumption that there is a free market for the mode of transportation you use is based on an assumption. and i think i'm being fair when i articulate it this way. i think this is the assumption fairly articulated. who can see the flaw? yes? >> i think maybe that may be true in some cases, but when you take a look at people who live out in the middle of nowhere, people who are surrounded by woods and have to get somewhere, often times you drive because you have no choice. >> so kwame says, a lot of the time if you drive, it's not because you chose that out of a sort of display cabinet of alternatives, like you would in a store. it's because there was no choice. you had to just do it.
i can give you anecdotal support for kwame's answer, which is that, given the choice, i would drive a lot less. and i'm going to be fair. i do have a choice. i could ride my bike to work. i don't like being passed by cars going 65 miles an hour passing me a foot or two away from me. it scares the -- it scares me. all right? it scares me a lot, enough to make me not want to do it. if i had an ample place to ride that was separated, it would be a different picture. i admit it. i'm a coward. but maybe there are other cowards, too, and maybe there are enough cowards that that makes a difference. you know, i've been honked at for riding on the very edge of the road. and it's very unnerving to me. so i just do not like that. and, therefore, i drive. but when i drive, i pay gas taxes for driving. and when those gas taxes are
used to claim, well, this shows your preference in the free market for driving. and, therefore, your gas taxes should go just to more roads. i object. i say, it wasn't a free market. somebody was threatening to kill me from behind. that's not free. okay? so i disagree with this. i'm not alone. economists like michelle white agree. they say that when somebody drives, they may actually hate driving. they are doing it because of a number of other factors that constrain their choices. all right? this illustration, i think further undermines the claim we have a free market for transportation. some of you might recognize the springfield interchange on i-95 in nova. below that we have just an average rural virginia two-lane, two direction road. now your cost for accessing these is interesting to consider when you compare it against the cost of supplying this infrastructure.
i don't have to persuade you that the cost of supplying this springfield interchange is probably several orders of magnitude or few orders of magnitude greater than the cost of providing the two-lane road. here's your cost of access of the two-lane road. per gallon fuel used on it, you'll pay 35.7 cents. about half of virginia gas tax and about half for federal sales -- i'm sorry gas tax. here's your cost for using the springfield interchange. all right. the same. now don't get me wrong. i'm not saying that this means that in effect that we can compare it that easily. for example, you'll see there are many more lanes of traffic on i-95. that means more people who can pay more money, right? sure it does. in the end, though, i think everybody has to admit that we don't really have any idea. we don't have any clear
connection between what people are paying and what they are getting the way you do when you go to a store. so much for the free market. but that's not all. every one of the cars that used every one of the lanes on i-95 here is going to have to find a place to park. now if they park in their own driveway at home when they get home, or they live in an apartment and they park in a designated garage or lot for the apartment complex, you are probably directly paying for your parking. but if you get to work and you park for free or if you get to a store and you park for free, that's not to say the space you are parking in was free. it's land. it's not free, okay? show me free land. i want it, all right? it means that somebody paid for it. it's just not the person who parked on it. what does an economist call it when somebody else pays for the
cost incurred by someone? you are -- if you are the beneficiary, you are the beneficiary of a -- >> free ride. >> and a specific kind of free ride called a subsidy. there's a subsidy for parking. and if you subsidize parking, you subsidize driving. why? you guys know about systems. there's no such thing as driving if you can't park. i want you to think about it for a minute. try to imagine driving but never parking. it sounds to me like a nightmare or some sort of fantasy hellish world. but there's no such thing as driving without parking. if there's no such thing as driving without parking, then if you subsidize parking, you subsidize driving. if you subsidize driving, then we don't have a free market for driving anymore. follow me? i want to try an analogy on you. it depends on you having some
basic acquaintance with these two ways of dealing with sewage from homes. on the right, a septic tank plus a drain field. this will be privately owned by the homeowner. the homeowner pays for it. the homeowner maintains it. it's on the homeowner's property. and it takes care of those household wastes. all right. sewage and so on. grade water and groundwater. on the left a shared sewer system. probably owned by a local government, a county or municipal authority. and we have a quite different system. the homeowner does not own anything and the homeowner really has nothing to worry about once it crosses the line of their property. it's not their problem anymore. okay? now maybe you all remember the first question i asked you, what's better. i want to ask you the same question here. what is better? a septic tank plus a drain field, privately owned, or a shared, probably publicly owned
sewer system? >> i'd say the sewer system is better because it's less maintenance for the homeowner. >> and it's nathan, right? >> yes. >> the sewer system is better because it's less trouble for the homeowner. of course, the sewer system is better if you can get it. right? if you can get it. if you are going to get a sewer system at all in a rural area, it's actually not going to be better because you'll have to pay huge amounts of money in the form of taxes to have that kind of sewer system because it would be prohibitively expensive to equip you with it, right? so we're back to, i think it was asha's answer who said binder clips, staplers, paper clips. depends on what you're using it for, right? this depends on the situation. i want you to imagine. supposing if, due to a value or ideological commitment, you
said, this is america. we believe in private property and individualism. everybody should have their own septic tank and drain field no matter what it takes. even in a big city. even in manhattan you should have privately owned septic tanks and drain fields. each home, each individual residence having their own field. and not mixing our wastes together, right? what if you said that, right? could you make such a -- how would you make such a septic tank system work? i put it to you that it can theoretically be done. in fact, there has even been a proposal for a way to do it, but i get ahead of myself. how would you do it? how would you make a septic tank work in a dense city?
you guys are engineers. i know you can think of a solution. it's not real hard. it's going to start to get awkward pretty soon. where do you say? septic tank and drain field even in manhattan. how your going to do it. wade? >> find a way to make the system smaller or just continue to dig deeper? >> you could try to like dig a mine shaft going below the crust of the earth and dump it all in there? yeah. i think there might be a more feasible alternative. charles? >> put it on the roof. >> you can put it on the roof. i think one roof will not be enough area.
so what do you do? you don't give up, do you? james? >> every other floor just have a residence and have -- >> now it would be hard to live between two drain fields but here's a real proposal. that is a septic tower. each one of those levels is a drain field. interspersed is air which you would need to have for the septic system to work. you could put this in a city next to an apartment house and every resident of the apartment house could have their own drain field in this massive tower. the tower would probably have to be bigger than the apartment house. you'd probably need pumps to get it up there. you definitely need pumps to get it up there. but you could do it theoretically. now i want to point out that while this is an actual patent, a real patent for a real septic tower, no kidding, it did not succeed. if you look this patent up, you'll see why.
they stopped paying their fees. it goes from bottom to top. and you can see it's not expired. anybody who wants to can file a new patent for a new septic tower. that includes anybody in this room. and you may say, why would i ever do that? and i put it to you that this country has shown how you can make that work. what would it take to make septic towers or alternatively, massive open septic fields in cities that could be like city parks that nobody would go to. how could you make that happen? charles? >> if you increased the cost of the sewer system to the point where this became a cheaper alternative. >> you could increase the cost of the sewer system, right? now incidentally, this is an analogy which means we're not actually -- i'm not interested in sewer systems here.
what's, in urban transportation, the equivalent of the shared public sewer system? someone. yes? >> the subway. >> yeah, some kind of shared public transport. metra, subway, buses, street cars, light rail, you name it. whatever it is, the shared system that is spatially efficient where space is scarce. if that's not efficient you force people into cars and then you have to find a place to put all the cars. you have parking garages in cities. you have cities where block after block is parking garages and service lots like you saw at the beginning here. now you can make this happen, not so much by -- you don't have to hobble transit to make this happen. you can also subsidize the parking garages or the septic tank towers and you can even require them by law. do you guys know that if you open a business, commercial
enterprise, industry, retail store in a town or city in america, you almost certainly will have to provide a minimum number of off-street parking spaces? did you know that? zoning codes are almost universal. there are exceptions, but they're almost universal. and zoning codes specify if you open a retail business or an industry you have to provide a certain number of parking spaces for each square foot of floor space in your business. they're not saying oh, we think you, the owner of the business should judge. you don't want people to have no place to park. we'll let you decide how many parking spaces you want, no, they're not doing that. we tell you how many you have to provide, all right? here is what happens, these parking spaces are mandated by local zoning ordinances that require you to provide x number of spaces per unit floor space
of a retail business. these became common in the middle of the 20th century. i'm not saying these stores don't want the parking spaces. the fact that they're all full suggests that they have the number right. but very often the spaces are not full. but look at how much space, see the ratio on the right. the church hall in west sacramento, california, the top one, supplies 16 times more area in parking than it supplies floor space in a church. on the bottom we have retail businesses that supply one to two times more parking space area than floor space area. so did you hear me? you have to supply more parking space area than floor space area? that is a little weird, don't you think? maybe as weird as saying if you open an apartment house you have to provide an equal amount of area for septic fields, rather than
saying why don't we have a shared system in septic areas and a provided service in rural areas. economists have fits over any of these kinds of rules. i don't think it will surprise you to hear that. economists tend to think that the market handles most things reasonably well, left to itself. not everything. but parking spaces could be solved by the market place. you would be a fool to open a business and offer no parking at all. so why not let the businesses decide the optimum amount. these authors come to this conclusion about them. in effect, they are a subsidy for driving. perhaps a more vivid position is taken by donald shupe of ucla who by the high cost of parking has made this contention. why are there fertility drugs for cars, because they make it cheap to drive.
if you don't believe me, think about what a difference it makes when you go into a city like richmond or washington if you're pretty confident you'll find a parking place. if you have that confidence you will drive. if you don't you will take the metro in. all right? this is what minimum parking spaces or parking lot allocations look like in practice. notice the parking lot here is i don't know, two or three times bigger than the floor area of the retail business there. this is short pump, some of you know this west of richmond. all right? now, if parking is subsidized and therefore driving is subsidized that doesn't answer the contention that transit is subsidized. for example, tool decides it is subsidized more. to say -- i wish you would think about the line of reasoning here. so pay close attention to this.
the claim is that if fares from passengers don't cover the expense of the transit service therefore the transit service is subsidized. in other words, the people benefitting from the service are the people riding it. if they're paying less than the cost of providing it they are getting a subsidy. but i would like to suggest to you that at least plausibly, the riders of a transit system, especially in a dense city are not the only ones benefitting. in fact, everyone who drives is benefitting from transit ridership. do you see how that would work? nathan? >> i mean people taking mass transit are not clogging up the roads. >> if you're riding on the mass transit system, you're freeing up the road.
i don't think it is a stretch to say that these drivers would be happy to have five, ten, 20% of their gas tax go to transit. this is not going to be true everywhere, but it is going to be true where there is a lot of traffic in dense cities. so i don't think you can say that just because transit costs more than the riders pay in fares that it is subsidized because the benefit is extending to a lot of other people, as well. you see what i mean? all right. so now, here is a little bit of elementary economics. i think it will be easy for all of you. what happens when the value or product of a service is under-valued. in other words, i -- i should actually put it a little differently like this. what happens when the cost that we pay is less than the value that we get? it's a predictable economic reaction. adam?
>> i mean, the theory with supply and demand, conception, therefore the seller increases the price and it evens out. >> right, you all know this. so if a store keeper didn't charge enough for candy bars they would run out of candy bars and so they would start to charge more for candy bars as a result, right? if they didn't charge enough also it would cost them more when they sold a candy bar than they would make back in the money and they would be out of business shortly if we did that. well, you can see this kind of thing happening in traffic. when you have congested traffic, an economist is likely to say that this is simply that the users of the road are not paying the real value of the space provided, hence there is a shortage of space. a shortage of road capacity is just another way of saying congestion. and i think you all know that congestion is a very serious
problem in america. particularly in the d.c. area, right? so here we see people who are in effect saying this road is so cheap i don't mind going a mile an hour on it? all right. now, there is a way you can make road capacity into something resembling a market. i'm not saying it is a real market by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a lot closer. on the top we see singapore's road scheme, you go and are charges -- charged for the road capacity, just like the shop keeper is going to charge you more if he can't keep the thing stocked. these things may get free for example, at night. on the bottom you see london. singapore did this in 1975. it was not electronic then, but it was feasible through quite a lot of human labor. now with electronics there is not so much labor.
hence, we have london, 2003, in fact there is a lot of cities who have done this now. this is a mostly complete list. although we have some things seminoling congestion charge resembling the congestion scheme, although we don't have a dense part in the area, no matter where you come from you're going to pay for it. it would be very easy to control access to manhattan. it is just bridges and tunnels, right? and in fact, the people of new york city approved this, which tells you something important about people recognizing the value of cars but also seeing the limits of them. but the new york general assembly vetoed the idea, said no we're not going to have this. san francisco is considering it
right now. but there is no congestion charging of a real congestion charging type anywhere in american cities. but what it does is, it solves congestion by making people pay for what they're getting. and that is why these cars are really moving around freely. instead of having a market, we have a central authority called the american association of state highway and transportation officials for the state level or the federal highway administration for the federal level. and mostly this is state level stuff. the vast majority of the roads are state level affairs. and they centrally plan what we get and how we get it. in this sense i would say it is not a stretch to say that the -- that ashto is analagous to a soviet national planning bureau. soviet planned its economy. they figured out what to charge for things. they tried to charge less for what they thought people wanted,
like bread, therefore it was also in short supply and was also under-valued. i can remember seeing tv items about children in the soviet union who couldn't find a football in the store because there were shortages, using russian round bread loaves instead, it didn't matter because if they were out of them you could always get another one. ashto has another solution, it is essentially free to get on the road. the solution is not to charge you to get on the road. the solution is to have a bunch of experts rank roads using the ashto green book. the green book is sort of a transportation engineer's analog to psychiatrist's dsm. remember the dsm from 4500. well, the green book has all the answers for what to do. one thing is to guarantee a level of service.
what is a level of service. well, here it is. level of service a, no delays. level of service f, you have no idea when you're going to get to your destination because the delays are so bad, right? so if you have level of service c or d, then you have to increase road capacity. because you can't increase the charge. you know, with very few exceptions like toll roads for example, you cannot increase the charge. so instead you increase the supply, all right? i want to try another quick little analogy on you. supposing target decided -- lost everybody's credit card numbers, let's improve public relations a little bit, let's simplify checkout. we'll have different prices, so
think about where you would go when you got to target on the first day of charge by the pound. where would you go? i would like to bring in -- michael, where would you go? charge by the pound day? >> probably to the movie and video game section. >> movies and video games, high value for relatively low wage, one little, you know, program or whatever, console, and asha? >> jewelry. >> jewelry, i wasn't think of that, but that is probably the best place to go. electronics is good. a student in the previous lecture suggested pillows, you get very lightweight, so you get a lot of them. i think that would get impractical when you were loading up your car. but yeah, jewelry, electronics, the high value stuff, right?
now, think about if target then handled the shortage by saying keep the trucks coming, the supply trucks coming. we have to keep the merchandise coming in because people are buying this stuff up faster than we can get. you wouldn't really solve the problem. >> i just wanted to note the micro sd card is worth more than its weight in gold by a significant multiplier. >> wow, and i don't even know what a micro sd card is, this is a computer card? >> an sd card like you put in a camera or what have you. >> okay, now you all know the place to go when target announces we charge by the pound, go for the micro sd cards. well, you see this is what we're doing here. instead of say, charging the right price when we get to level c, d, e, or f, they say build more capacity.
that's how we get those gargantuan highway projects and that is also how come they are never really solving the problem because they continue to undercharge. it is not that hard, is it? right, so i would like to consider, though, if we're talking about service, we're talking about people. we're talking about getting people something they want. but we're not talking about people really in general. we're talking about certain people who benefit from this. and because most of this fall into the category some of the time it may seem a little abstract getting annoyed by this. but if you think of an economist you can recognize the problem here. consider this interchange or this intersection where they're doubling the width of both the north, south, east, west roads here to get this up from a level of c or d up to a level of service a. now, they're going to be back at the same problem again. in another 20 years they will have to double it again and maybe put in a great separated interchange. but for now they will get the level of service a out of this.
but it is level of service for drivers. and if you think they're the only people concerned, recognize again that a lot of people who are driving would actually rather be doing something else. i was one of those, you might remember that. and maybe we would be if we could actually cross this street. look at the lower left quadrant. residential subdivision will probably go in there. we have a retail business across the street even though that is a distance of a couple of hundred yards from the nearest house to that business. you know that person is going to drive because crossing that street is going to be a hassle. all right? they might be able to put in a good crosswalk with a signal but it is going to be unpleasant, and you're going to have to go to the crosswalks. there is not going to be a lot of crosswalks. if you want to go to the store another way you probably will end up driving. so we don't have a level of service for travellers of all
kinds, we have level of service for drivers. we're back to a world in which we don't really know what people prefer, because we're in a world built for one kind of traveller. all right? ashto also has this mechanism, since remember they don't have a marketplace they have to have a lot of systems instead. one is level of service. another is called functional classification, where they classify roads. and local roads give you land access, that means you will have a lot of driveways and intersections. that is so you can get to individual stores and houses. at the top we have mobility, this is why on an interstate highway, for example, you don't have driveways. the intersections or exits are relatively rare. and in between we have the collectors. but i want you to consider something, the access is for drivers, the mobility is for drivers. this doesn't have to be that
way. consider what happens if you change access and mobility and very -- instead of saying it has to be cars, what if we say we could change modes? what if we said for high access let's favor high access modes, like local buses, bicycles and pedestrians. and if we want high mobility why don't we favor those high mobility things instead? instead, even high access we define as high access for cars, right? and i think this will -- i can illustrate this nicely. if we look at mobility, is this mobility for the people crossing the street or these pedestrians? it's not mobility for them. mobility on this road is high if you're driving. this is austelle road in marietta, georgia.
but if you're a pedestrian or a bus rider, you're in trouble. this is not an abstraction. raquel nelson in april the 10th, 2010, took the bus on austell road, got as close to her house as the bus stop would let her go. there is the blue, the bus stop, she is with her three children coming from the shopping mall. there is no crosswalk in sight. you can see where her home is, she is not going to walk with three children hundreds of yards instead. so instead she crosses, her son, a.j. carrying a plastic bag with a goldfish in it that he got from the store is struck and killed by a drunk driver. the drunk driver is arrested, but so is raquel nelson, for negligent homicide. she actually pays a fine for jay walking, but she is paying $200 for an event that kills her son, all right? this is not mobility for her,
but to ashto, it is. it is land access for cars, too i want you to -- i want to conclude with this analogy, remember ashto. what if instead we had an organization, the association of state septic tank officials. look at what would happen if we did this to detroit. we would have orange multi-story septic structures. this is the towers, red septic surface fields. this map is real. i made up the bit about the septic, but look what it really is, parking garages and surface parking lots. we destroyed detroit!
look at the cars, we see look, everything that is orange or red is area committed to cars only. those are parking garages and surface lots. that is a weird thing to do to a city but it makes perfect sense if yo live in a world in which driving is subsidized, right? if we mean land access for a car most of the time they're not moving at all. blue means mobility, red means access, parking is like permanent access. so i think we need to redraw ashto's diagram like that. so i want to conclude by suggesting to you that we don't know what americans would prefer to do, especially in urban america given the choice. because they don't have the choice. we don't know what the free market would decide because we don't have a free market. we actually don't even really know if this love affair thesis has any merit because the term
did not exist until 1961. remember when it appeared on the screen? when the dupont show of the week had a show starring groucho marx present the history of the love affair of the automobile. dupont owned a 23% share in general motors at the time. and they created this story to help us believe this is what we prefer. and since then we have accepted the story because we forget the past. and you all know that those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it. so i urge you to remember the past. thank you. if there are any questions or whatever, feel free to chime in. but we only have the another minute or two of class. all right. well, thank you, you have been a patient audience.
this week during american history tv primetime, we feature our lectures in history series taking you to college classrooms across the country. each night we debut a new lecture. tonight, a look at how the u.s. transportation system developed. we begin at 8:00 eastern with a development of parkways and freeways, from an iowa state university lecture. then from the university of virginia, a look at the impact of cars on u.s. cities. at 10:30 eastern, the development of the electric rail system, taken from a clemson university lecture. american history tv, primetime tonight. this labor day weekend american history tv on c-span3 has three days of featured
programming. saturday night at 8:00 eastern, bakersfield college professor oliver rosales share his personal family history and other oral histories about the national farm workers association. >> chavez was absolutely blowing this up. the movement of farm workers, the people at the bottom of society, right, were suddenly becoming engaged in fighting for their rights, wages, working conditions, but also mobilizing for politicians, right. we'll talk maybe a little bit about this later. i snow soknow some of you menti this in your oral history. b one of best friends of the chavez family is the kennedy family, starting with john and robert and their children. >> sunday evening at 6:00, on american artifacts, we'll visit the national security archive at george washington university with its director thomas blatten for the 50th anniversary of the freedom of information act, signed into law by president johnson. >> john moss, the lonely crusade, he picked up this bright young illinois congressman as a co-sponsor, guy
named donald rumsfeld. rumsfeld's statement on the floor of the house in 1966 is a pretty good explanation of why the bill then became a real majority bill. rumsfeld government has gotten so big, it is involved in so many different pieces of our life, commercial life, industrial life, personal lives, medicare passed, social security, so forth, we need the right to get those records out of agencies to be able to uphold our own standard of living, liberty, freedom, strain on government. >> monday morning at 11:00 eastern, the national park service marking its 100th anniversary at articlen to house, the robert e. lee memorial. we talked with robert stanton and brandon bias, former arlington house manager who will oversee a year long restoration of the mansion, slave quarters and grounds. >> we were incredibly fortunate we were able to really tailor our specific needs for all kinds of things for the museum objects
for telling the history interpretation and the physical fixes and construction that needed to happen, not just to the buildings, but to the historic grounds and gardens and we were able to present that to mr. rubenstein and he very generously donated to make that happen. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. this weekend, c-span's cities tour with our comcast cable partners will explore the literary life and history of denver, colorado. on book tv, we visit the tattered cover bookstore, founded in 1971, it is considered the cornerstone of literary culture of denver. >> if you look at tattered cover, and you see in the store green carpets and sometimes brass fixtures and dark wood, the original barnes and nobles superstars were modeled on this. >> and juan thompson talks about living with his father, gonzo journalist hunter s. thompson and his bookstories i tell
myself. >> he was born in 1936, so when he's grown up, he didn't grow up in an era when fathers were typically heavily involved with raising the kids. so that was part of it. and second, writing was always -- that was most important thing. family was secondary for sure. >> also this weekend, as part of our c-span cities tour, some history of denver, colorado, on american history tv. cyndi souders on the rocky flats nuclear site's transition to a national wildlife refuge. >> we do have elk that use this area, they use the drainages for calving. we also have mule deer, so there may be some mule deer fawns out here. coyotes are other common mammals. occasionally there is a bear in this area. >> and then kimberly field,
author of the book the denver mint 100 years of gangsters, gold and ghosts, talks about how the mint changed the city. >> by the 1880s, denver itself had gotten rich from mining. and it wanted to become the queen city of the plains, the center of commerce, the leader in the western united states. and the city fathers at that point decided that a mint, they could be proud of, was going to be part of that process. >> the c-span cities tour of denver, colorado, saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> clemson university professor roger grant talks about the history of american transportation and the rise of interurban electric rail at the end of the 19th century.
interurbans were similar to rural trolleys and connected cities via small electric train cars. before the rise of the personal automobile, these local systems allowed people from rural areas to get to city centers in a cheap, reliable way. he talks about interurbans as precursors to the urban light rail of today. his class is about an hour and ten minutes. this morning we're going to begin a three-part study of electric interurbans. certainly one of the least studied aspects of american transportation history. the overall theme, and one that i want you to keep in mind is that we can make the argument that the electric interurban, or the rural trolley is that linkage between steam railroad passenger service and the