From Railroads to Automobiles:
Politics, Development, and Transportation in United States History

(History 103D)

Louise Nelson Dyble
alnelson@socrates.berkeley.edu
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, USA
Fall 2000

Luois Nelson Dyble's comments:
This reading seminar was a requirement for history majors at UC Berkeley. This section had twelve students, all juniors and seniors. Although the reading assignments were unusually long and there was some fatigue toward the end of the semester, for the most part the students seemed to enjoy the discussions. The major goal of the course was to develop students' critical perspective and to improve their ability to identify the primary thesis in each work.

SYLLABUS

REQUIRED BOOKS

Bottles, Scott.
Los Angeles and the Automobile: the Making of the Modern City.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Caro, Robert.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.
New York: Knopf, 1974.

Deverell, William.
Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad: 1850-1910.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Lewis, Tom.
Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life.
New York: Viking, 1997.

McShane, Clay.
Down the Asphalt Path.
New York: University of Columbia Press, 1994.

Norris, Frank.
The Octopus. Introduction by Kevin Starr.
New York: Penguin Books, 1986, 1994.

Warner, Sam Bass.
Streetcar Suburbs: the Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900.
Cambridge: Harvard University Books, 1962.
COURSE READER ALSO REQUIRED


ASSIGNMENTS

  1. Each student must complete readings each week and participate actively in the discussion. This is the single most important consideration in grading for the class.


  2. Each student must write four short review-type essays of 2 to 3 pages on the reading or readings of their choice. These are due in class ON THE DAY THAT THE READING WILL BE DISCUSSED. No late short essays will be accepted. If desired, students may write an additional short essay to replace a disappointing grade. A MINIMUM OF FOUR SHORT ESSAYS MUST BE COMPLETED BY NOVEMBER 14.


  3. Each student will complete an historiographical essay of 8 to 10 pages on a course-related topic of their choice. Independent research and reading will be required for this project. Students are encouraged to discuss their topic interests and reading selections with the instructor early in the semester, and to submit a rough draft for review to the instructor by November 21. Essays will be due on December 5. ABSOLUTELY NO EXTENSIONS WILL BE GRANTED. Students who miss the due date will not receive a passing grade for the course.


SCHEDULE

WEEK ONE, August 29
Introduction: On Historiography

WEEK TWO, September 5
Frank Norris.
The Octopus. Introduction by Kevin Starr. New York: Penguin Books, 1986, 1994.
WEEK THREE, September 12
William G. Robbins.
Colony & Empire: the Capitalist Transformation of the American West. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1994.
Chapters 4, 9.
Colleen A. Dunlavy.
Politics and Industrialization: Early Railroads in the United States and Prussia. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Chapters 1, 3, 4.
Mark W. Summers.
Railroads, Reconstruction, and the Gospel of Prosperity: Aid Under the Radical Republicans, 1865-1877. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984.
Chapters 1, 8, 9, 12, 16.
WEEK FOUR, September 19
FILM:
1877: The Grand Army of Starvation. American Social History Project, 1987.
Herbert G. Gutman.
"Trouble on the Railroads in 1873-1874: Prelude to the 1877 Crisis?"
Chapter 6 in Work, Culture and Society in Industrializing America. New York: Vintage Books, 1977.
David O. Stowell.
"Small Property Holders and the Great Strike of 1877: Railroads, City Streets, and the Middle Classes"
Journal of Urban History 21:6 (September 1995): 741-763.
Donald L. Miller.
City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1996.
Chapters 4, 7.
William Cronon.
Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.
Chapter 2.
WEEK FIVE, September 26
William Deverell.
Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad: 1850-1910. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
WEEK SIX, October 3
Sam Bass Warner.
Streetcar Suburbs: the Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900. Cambridge: Harvard University Books, 1962.
WEEK SEVEN, October 10
Clay McShane.
Down the Asphalt Path. New York: University of Columbia Press, 1994.
Larry R. Ford.
"Drive-in Dreams: Decades of Design on the American Commercial Strip."
Chapter 6 in Cities and Buildings: Skyscrapers, Skid Rows and Suburbs. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Eric Avila.
"The Folklore of the Freeway: Space, Culture and Identity in Postwar Los Angeles."
Aztlan-A Journal of Chicano Studies 23:1 (Spring 1998):15-31.
WEEK EIGHT, October 17
FILM: Jim Klein and Martha Olson.
Taken for a Ride. New York: The American Documentary, Inc., 1996.
Scott Bottles.
L.A. and the Automobile: the Making of the Modern City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
WEEK NINE, October 24
Mark S. Foster.
"City Planners and Urban Transportation: The American Response, 1900-1940".
Journal of Urban History 5 (May 1979), 365-396.
Martha J. Bianco.
"Technological Innovation and the Rise and Fall of Urban Mass Transit."
Journal of Urban History 25, no. 3 (1999): 348-378.
Stanley Mallach.
"The Origins of the Decline of Urban Mass Transportation in the United States, 1890-1930."
Urbanism Past and Present 8 (1979).
Paul Barrett.
"Public Policy and Private Choice: Mass Transit and the Automobile in Chicago Between the Wars."
Business History Review 49 (1975): 473-497.
Martin Wachs.
"The Evolution of Transportation Policy in Los Angeles: Images of Past Policies and Future Prospects." In The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory, eds. Allen J. Scott and Edward J. Soja. University of California Press: Berkeley, 1996.
WEEK TEN, October 31
Robert Caro.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Knopf, 1974.
Introduction, Chapters 9-20.
Jameson W. Doig.
"Expertise, Politics, and Technological Change: The Search for Mission at the Port of New York Authority."
Journal of the American Planning Association 59:1 (Winter 1993): 31-44.
WEEK ELEVEN, November 7
Robert Caro.
The Power Broker.
Chapters 25-28
Herbert Kaufman.
"Robert Moses: Charismatic Bureaucrat."
Political Science Quarterly. 90:3 (Fall 1975): 521-538.
WEEK TWELVE, November 14
Tom Lewis.
Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life. New York: Viking, 1997.
Chapters 5-12.
William Issel.
"'Land Values, Human Values, and the Preservation of the City's Treasured Appearance': Environmentalism, Politics, and the San Francisco Freeway Revolt."
Pacific Historical Review 68, no. 4 (1999): 611-646.
Raymond A. Mohl.
"Race and Space in the Modern City: Interstate-95 and the Black Community in Miami."
Chapter 4 of Raymond Mohl, ed., Urban Policy in Twentieth Century America. p. 100-158.
Brian D. Taylor.
"Public Perceptions, Fiscal Realities, and Freeway Planning: The California Case."
Journal of the American Planning Association 61, no. 1 (1995): 43-56.
Last day for short essays.
WEEK THIRTEEN, November 21
FILM: Finally Got the News. 1970.
Optional rough draft due.
WEEK FOURTEEN, November 28
Charles Postel, guest instructor
Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin.
Detroit I Do Mind Dying. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press, 1998.
[excerpts]
WEEK FIFTEEN, December 5
Prof. Richard Walker, Guest Instructor
"Industry Builds the City: The Suburbanization of Manufacturing in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1850-1940." Forthcoming.
Final essays due.

RECOMMENDED READINGS

Barrett, Paul.
The Automobile and Urban Transit: the Formation of Public Policy in Chicago, 1900-1930. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.
Brodsly, David.
L.A. Freeway, an Appreciative Essay. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.
Chandler, Alfred D., ed.
The Railroads: The Nation's First Big Business. New York: Arno Press, 1981.
Childs, William R.
Trucking and the Public Interest: The Emergence of Federal Regulation, 1914-1940. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.
Flink, James J.
The Automobile Age. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988.
Fogelson, Robert M.
The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850-1930. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
Foner, Philip S.
The Great Labor Uprising of 1877. New York: Monad Press, 1977.
Foster, Mark S.
From Streetcar to Superhighway: American City Planners and Urban Transportation, 1900-1940. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.
Gartman, David.
Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design. London: Routledge, 1994.
Hall, Peter.
Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1988.
Jackson, Kenneth T.
Crabgrass Frontier: the Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.
Klein, Maury.
Unfinished Business: The Railroad in American Life. Hanover: University of Rhode Island, 1994.
Nelson, Bruce.
Workers on the Waterfront. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
Schwartz, Joel.
The New York Approach: Robert Moses, Urban Liberals, and Redevelopment of the Inner City. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1993.

Syllabus prepared 2001 for H-Urban Teaching Center.
http://www.h-net.org/~urban/teach/index.htm

Syllabus copyright 2000 Louise Nelson Dyble. All rights reserved.
Permission to copy and use under "fair use" in education is granted,
provided proper credit is given.

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