Who Killed the Streetcar?

It's an article of faith among many that GM, Firestone, and Standard Oil destroyed the streetcar networks of the early 20th century. Stephen Smith suggests that Progressive Era and New Deal planners and politicians should shoulder more of the blame.

Smith writes that the General Motors story "has little basis in reality. A cursory look at transportation history shows that motorization was already well underway by the time National City Lines – the holding company backed by GM, Firestone Tire, and Standard Oil, among others – started buying up transit companies in 1938. Other factors, often championed by progressives, had already drove the industry into decline and it was really only a matter of time before buses took over. Although General Motors and other car-centric companies were certainly lobbying the government in their favor, the progressive tendency to vilify private transit companies had already turned the public against streetcars, and local governments were already heavily predisposed towards motorization by the late '30s."

Thanks to Stephen Smith

Full Story: The Great American Streetcar Myth


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