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Bernstein Street History


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This presentation from Scott Bernstein highlights the origins of contemporary network and highways legislation while reminding us about the influence of contemporary historians who have greatly influenced discussion surrounding transportation networks.

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Bernstein Street History

  1. 1. Where Did Those Rules Come From? Observations from Contemporary Historians on Networks and Highways Scott Bernstein, Center for Neighborhood Technology Congress for a New Urbanism Transportation Summit Portland, OR 11/15 2009 [email_address]
  2. 2. A Word About Networks…. <ul><li>Networks for what purpose… </li></ul><ul><li>Economy of scale OR </li></ul><ul><li>Economy of scope? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Key Contemporary Historians <ul><li>Clay McShane, Northeastern University—origins of modern highway in 19 th century planning and transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Jeffrey Brown, Florida State—origins of attempts to make city planning “scientific” including limited ways </li></ul><ul><li>Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon—origins of the networked city </li></ul><ul><li>Donald Johnson, U. of South Australia—origins of neighborhood unit </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Barrett and Mark Rose, sources of transportation planning practices </li></ul><ul><li>Sam Bass Warner, MIT—American planning history </li></ul><ul><li>Bruce Seeley, parallel efforts at “scientific” planning for state highway standards </li></ul><ul><li>Steve Bernadin, U. of Paris—diffusion of traffic planning standards </li></ul>
  4. 4. Some Early Origins of the Modern American Highway <ul><li>1859, Olmsted, Manhattan, Central Park Plan included pattern book for distinguishing between connected and more limited access boulevards; placed higher value on speed </li></ul><ul><li>Modeled many features on Haussman’s Paris, partner Calvert Vaux called him America’s Napoleon III </li></ul><ul><li>Angled and graded approach ramps, forerunners of parkway and then later superhighways </li></ul><ul><li>Believed parks and park districts would facilitate slum removal and roads would facilitate this </li></ul><ul><li>Sold on the basis of real estate value creation, and had a cost overrun of 700 percent </li></ul><ul><li>Did favor curves for both aesthetic and traffic management, sort of early traffic calming </li></ul>
  5. 5. Olmsted continued <ul><li>Brooklyn Prospect Park, also Olmsted </li></ul><ul><li>210 foot wide Ocean Parkway from Prospect Park 9 miles to Coney Island </li></ul><ul><li>1874, Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted: “The Paradise for Horsemen.” It specifically noted that the new parkway was specifically designed for those who wish to surpass the rate of speed allowed in Prospect Park itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Prototype for a regional radial network of 200 miles, ultimately 1873 depression limited this to one additional highway, Eastern Parkway </li></ul>
  6. 6. Other places <ul><li>Boston, Olmsted there limited to curvilinear roads </li></ul><ul><li>Metropolitan District Commission, built Charles River Speedway </li></ul><ul><li>1884 Directory of racing clubs noted similar layouts in Chicago, Savannah, San Francisco, Buffalo, New Orleans, DC-ellipse etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Combination of park districts and racing clubs for the wealthy </li></ul><ul><li>By 1890, American cities listed 250 miles of park drives and 160 miles of parkways, largest lengths in Chicago and New York </li></ul>
  7. 7. Big contributions <ul><li>Limited access with park access roads, grade separation and in Central Park transverse access buried in trenches </li></ul><ul><li>“Resembled Parisian boulevards more than anything else” </li></ul><ul><li>Limited access to “abutters” in NY limited to Park District but was undone later in federal highway standards </li></ul>
  8. 8. A word about speed limits and motor vehicles <ul><li>Appeared in first decade of 20 th century </li></ul><ul><li>No way to really measure </li></ul><ul><li>Applied first, not surprisingly to park roads and park throughways </li></ul><ul><li>Took 3 more decades to get 400 manufacturers, 48 states and federal government to agree to standard for speedometer measurement and display </li></ul>
  9. 9. Continued <ul><li>After Chicago fire, Donnelly directory proclaimed that the new idea of transportation replaces the old idea of crowdedness </li></ul><ul><li>Echoed later by Henry Ford, “We shall solve the problems of the city by leaving it” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Daniel Burnham and the Superhighway <ul><li>Early Burnham sketches around time of Columbian Exposition show multi-level highways running through buildings </li></ul><ul><li>Plan of Chicago clearly more interested in long-distance high-speed capacity that in local circulation in communities </li></ul><ul><li>1909 Plan clearly the first modern highway plan </li></ul><ul><li>Burnham Jr. took the lead in organizing a regional committee on limited access highway planning </li></ul><ul><li>Promoted limited access in tri-state area from Wisconsin to Indiana, forerunner of TriState Tollway </li></ul><ul><li>Promoted limited access in wealthy North Shore </li></ul><ul><li>Morphed into Chicago Regional Planning Association </li></ul>
  11. 11. Chicago and Harvard Contributions <ul><li>Plan for Lake Shore Outer Drive as a viaduct—defeated, citing dis-connectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Plan for bi-level Wacker Drive—approved and built </li></ul><ul><li>Plan to “subway” or entrench Chicago & NW railroad in Winnetka--approved </li></ul><ul><li>Engaged Miller McClintock from Harvard Erskine Bureau for Traffic Research to recommend congestion solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Community Traffic Surveys looked for throughput not access, standardized from coast to coast </li></ul><ul><li>Usually sponsored by local business and civic committees </li></ul><ul><li>Led to proposals for “Limited Ways” and later “superhighways” and “expressways” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Detroit <ul><li>Chief engineer John Hallihan </li></ul><ul><li>Planned 220 foot superhighways with median rapid transit </li></ul><ul><li>Built but without transit </li></ul><ul><li>Superseded Parsons Plan for subway system </li></ul>
  13. 13. Traction Engineers <ul><li>Developed street patterns and street railway patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Patterns and classification as early as 1903 </li></ul><ul><li>Bion J. Arnold, system of service districts or early TIFs to support, believed in workforce housing as an objective </li></ul><ul><li>William Barclay Parsons derided Arnold’s goals as “social engineering” and went on to develop standards for traffic surveys later applied in Interstate planning </li></ul>
  14. 14. Early street network and classification agents <ul><li>Charles Mulford Robinson—width and arrangement of streets 1911, Raymond Unwin, Harland Bartholomew; all sought through early City Planning Conferences (1909 on) to move from City Beautiful to City Functional </li></ul><ul><li>Group think in 1915, City Club of Chicago conference to plan the suburb of the future used “formalized Neighborhood unit of William Drummond (Mumford later noted plagiarism by Clarence Perry and Radburn planners in the 1920s) </li></ul><ul><li>Olmsted Jr. and Bion Arnold notable early collaboration to synthesize a scientifc approach in Pittsburgh, earlier effort by Bartholemew in St. Louis </li></ul><ul><li>Along with all of Burnham and Bennet’s plans used functional classification to separate allegedly faster and heavier traffic </li></ul>
  15. 15. 1916 Federal Aid Highway Act <ul><li>50-50 revenue sharing </li></ul><ul><li>Required states to create highway departments </li></ul><ul><li>Maintenance of effort certification </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctions, comply or money is transferred </li></ul><ul><li>Goals were throughput and speed and clearly anti-congestion </li></ul><ul><li>Goal was also to facilitate growth, and required certified plan for this </li></ul><ul><li>First federal law with enforceable growth standard </li></ul>
  16. 16. Smoke Out <ul><li>Smoke was demonized </li></ul><ul><li>Utilities competed on their smoke reducing character </li></ul><ul><li>Electric transportation sold on this </li></ul><ul><li>Think of as early “green buildings” </li></ul><ul><li>Much like later, speed was equated with “smoke reduction” </li></ul><ul><li>Frederick Ackerman, “Our Stake in Urban Congestion” </li></ul>
  17. 17. If Your Only Diagnosis is… <ul><li>Unscientific width and arrangement of city streets, area devoted ranged from 21% in LA to 40 % in DC </li></ul><ul><li>Promiscuous mixing of different types of traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Few corridors for through traffic </li></ul><ul><li>All led to Major Street Traffic Plans… </li></ul><ul><li>AND then to… </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Standards for functional classification, single use zoning, curvilinear unconnnected streets and cul de sacs (AASHO, Bureau of Public Roads, state engineering schools, and early ITE) </li></ul><ul><li>Herbert Hoover’s influence on standardized state planning statutes </li></ul><ul><li>1939, Toll Roads and Free Roads, FDR transmitted to Congress for the Bureau of Public Roads, called cities “decayed” and warned if no quick action urban mayors would come up with urban renewal plans of their own </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>Various Defense Highway Acts passed 1939-1956 </li></ul><ul><li>Followed Rural Electrification, Water Pollution Control, Federal Power Acts </li></ul><ul><li>Ignored any value to local capacity and networks </li></ul><ul><li>Eisenhower Presidential Library has memo in which Eisenhower blames FHWA for trapping him with expressways to city centers </li></ul>
  20. 20. Some Missing But Recoverable Pages of History—Planning in Recovery <ul><li>Housing near transit could have also been a standard </li></ul><ul><li>So could a “jobs to people” instead of “people to jobs” </li></ul><ul><li>Valuation maps showed the value of walkability and congestion but these were privately published </li></ul><ul><li>“ Smokeless” campaigns could have led to a focus on local and integrated planning—eg, Calgary LRT is wind-powered </li></ul><ul><li>Life cycle planning and costing used extensively by RRs and street railways </li></ul><ul><li>SSDs and TIFs paid up to 17 percent of municipal budgets </li></ul><ul><li>Home economics taught keep your carfare to 3% and don’t ever go into debt for automobile </li></ul><ul><li>Mortgage lending standards established during same period excluded transport costs </li></ul>
  21. 21. Networks for What Purpose? <ul><li>Need to refine the networks proposal to link to fundamental driving values </li></ul><ul><li>Need a similar set of networks perspectives for water, energy, communications and integrate with transportation and land use planning </li></ul><ul><li>The work that needs doing is in the places that most need work </li></ul>
  22. 22. Thank you! <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>