Lecture Film Notes

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3 Feb 2011

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Film: Taken for a Ride
The real story of the auto/oil industry campaign to destroy public transit and push
the auto
Following a long buried trail of auto/oil industry schemes, exposes the dummy
companies, secret stock transactions and propaganda campaigns that motorized one
third of the nations streetcars. Tracks were torn up overnight, and ear splitting, bon
jarring buses took the trolley’s place. Scores of American cities lost their streetcars,
including five of the nations ten largest. The same players organized as the high
lobby then campaigned for a network of urban freeways that would destroy
Americans downtown and turn the dream into a nightmare
Today, twenty eight US cities are building light rail systems, but the highway lobby
is back with plans to double or triple the number of autos on the road
A story that shaped cities
When you talk about urban transportation in America, you talk about streetcars
because they are smooth
The centre of the road is reserved for streetcars
In mid 1930s GM worked hard to create a trend away from rail
Cities urged GM to replace streetcars with yellow buses
Roy Fitzgerald = President of GM
Money is coming from corporate sponsors
Plan is to deliberately destroy public utilities
GM to secure control over local transportation and to destroy streetcar
National City Line (NCL) and GM were fined $5000 each to monopolize local
Department of Justice limited GMs influence on local transportation
Turning Point...after 15 years after war, subsidized housing encouraged movement
from urban centre to suburbs
Needed to rebuild the trolley lines or watch them die
End of the Line...Philadelphia was last city to face NCL
Eventually scrapped all the trolleys
Road to Nowhere...ask for more highways and parking space
Highway lobby was by far the most pressuring group in Washington
Need fund to build highways for driving, and more taxes means more roads
Trouble in Paradise...building the road requires the relocation of people, there was
protesting, need permission to close off the street to make freeway
Freeway was created along waterfront
Created citizen unhappiness with urban highway, was urban transportation crisis
Huge highway was going right through the city, was going to bisect from
neighbourhood to neighbourhood
Was brutal period in history
Citizens worked together to stop 17 freeways in the country, but most freeways were
built anyway
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