A Look Into “From Walking City to the Implementation of the Street Railways” by Warner Jr.

Using the story of Boston’s transportation evolution, Warner seeks to show just how strongly new technology affected the cultural and physical landscape of the city. As stated in the essay, face to face communication and walking were the two focal points of social interaction in early Boston. However, this method of interchange became strained as the city grew to accommodate new population and business. Conveniently, at the same time that this expansion was occurring, new technologies became available to help maintain the status quo of the typical Bostonian lifestyle. Wagner summarizes it saying, “ One of the principal contributions of the nineteenth century transportation and communication technology was to preserve the centralized communication of the walking city on a vastly enlarged scale” (Boehm 325). With the advent of streetcars, railways, and even later on the automobile, Boston would develop outward along the transport lines without having to create pockets of culture and commerce to serve smaller areas that mimicked those of only a few miles away. Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case with new technology, new commerce lead to a greater separation of wealth among the citizens. Wealthier residents were now able to maintain their social lives and cultural experience while removing themselves from living nearby “undesirable” elements of the community. New housing was made affordable only for the few. And, as the railways expanded, those in control of their growth pushed into areas of new development with only fares in mind. They were of the belief that having the most people on the rail at any given time would maximize the profits. So necessity never came into play in development of the railway map. Ultimately, what enabled Boston to preserve its sense of self also enabled it segregate its wealth.

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