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-   -   Check these amazing photos of street life before the automobile (http://www.bikeforums.net/living-car-free/926985-check-these-amazing-photos-street-life-before-automobile.html)

SmallFront 12-22-13 08:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by B. Carfree (Post 16350191)
None of which detracts from the beauty of streets unencumbered by cars. None of the scientific or medical advances really depended on excessive car use for their development, so we should be able to appreciate and strive for the beauty and healthfulness of car-free streets without casting away everything that has been created since the last time we had such public spaces.

Why?

Oh, and "healthfulness" in those pictures? Since when?

I'm sorry, but I don't view the past as something to aspire to. And I don't view what we see in those pics and video as "healthfulness".

Dahon.Steve 12-22-13 08:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16349927)
Both past and future have one good feature--a lack of automobiles in urbanized areas.

Although a steam locomotive roaring down the middle of a major street in Syracuse might have been worse than cars!

The steam locomotives used to run down the middle of main streets all over the country. Only weatlhy cities like New York, Chicago and Newark were able to construct platforms or tunnels.

Dahon.Steve 12-22-13 10:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by B. Carfree (Post 16350191)
None of which detracts from the beauty of streets unencumbered by cars. None of the scientific or medical advances really depended on excessive car use for their development, so we should be able to appreciate and strive for the beauty and healthfulness of car-free streets without casting away everything that has been created since the last time we had such public spaces.

+1

I look at those pictures and think of the beauty our cities would be if we just managed to keep it this way. With the advances in medicine and sanitation, average lifespans would skyrocket due to the massive reduction of polution and toxins in the environment.

Funny, I don't think it would have been too pleasant to ride a bicycle in those days because the streets were all cobble stone! You didn't need to have smooth streets because the trolly didn't need one or the horse and buggy.

dynodonn 12-22-13 11:05 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve (Post 16350840)

Funny, I don't think it would have been too pleasant to ride a bicycle in those days because the streets were all cobble stone! You didn't need to have smooth streets because the trolly didn't need one or the horse and buggy.

I don't really see a problem, since the lower pressured balloon tire bicycle would still be in vogue.

http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=356207

Bluish Green 12-22-13 12:14 PM

I wouldn't want to go back in time and lose the progress our society has made since those days in the areas of science and civil rights.

I would like to see us progress forward to a point where cities are flourishing centers where it is easy to get around by bicycle, walking, and transit and where cars aren't crowding the streets.

I'm hoping for a time when it doesn't make sense anymore to buy a new McMansion house built on formerly good farmland or forest and commute 20-30 miles each way on a choked Interstate in a huge pickup truck or SUV.

Thanks again for posting those photos, they are thought-provoking.

I-Like-To-Bike 12-22-13 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16350307)
I imagine the cameras were huge and heavy to make such detailed photos. The negatives were, I believe, 8 X 10 inch glass plates. A heavy tripod would have been required also. Touring on a bike with all that equipment would have been difficult if not impossible.

Horse and wagon or mules as used by the photographer cited below was the way it was done back in the day.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ered-time.html

Roody 12-22-13 01:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SmallFront (Post 16350551)
Why?

Oh, and "healthfulness" in those pictures? Since when?

I'm sorry, but I don't view the past as something to aspire to. And I don't view what we see in those pics and video as "healthfulness".

I'm not sure what you're referring to. Can you share or explain some details in the pictures that are "unhealthful"? The people in the photos look fit and happy to me.

Roody 12-22-13 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike (Post 16351230)
Horse and wagon or mules as used by the photographer cited below was the way it was done back in the day.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ered-time.html

I noticed that the photo collection I linked to was lacking images from west of Chicago, so thanks for sharing these. It was an amazing feat to photograph those remote and rugged locations.

I imagine the photographers would take trains as far as they could, then switch to wagons. Most settled areas had train service. By 1900, the interurban railroads were being built, so even rural areas were becoming part of the railway grid. I don't know if the photographic equipment of 1900 was portable enough to hand carry on foot or on a streetcar.

Ekdog 12-22-13 01:57 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by SmallFront (Post 16350551)
Why?

Oh, and "healthfulness" in those pictures? Since when?

I'm sorry, but I don't view the past as something to aspire to. And I don't view what we see in those pics and video as "healthfulness".

A lot of advances have been made since those days, of course, but that doesn't mean we haven't made some mistakes over the years as well. Many of us believe that allowing cars to invade our cities was an error.

Here's a picture of one of the main avenues in my city. It used to be clogged with traffic, the buildings (including the world-famous cathedral) were black from exhaust fumes, pedestrians and cyclists had been killed and the traffic noise was unpleasant, to say the least.

As you can see, things have changed since cars were banned. We can learn from the past.

http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=356215

SmallFront 12-22-13 02:09 PM

Hmm, if you don't think people can look happy even if they are not healthy or living somewhere healthy, I don't know what to say. If you only go by the pictures and have no sense of the historical context, yes, I guess one could say that it all looked healthy.

I have no longing to a "better past", nor do I think that the time depicted is some sort of utopia to aim for.

Roody 12-22-13 02:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve (Post 16350840)
+1

I look at those pictures and think of the beauty our cities would be if we just managed to keep it this way. With the advances in medicine and sanitation, average lifespans would skyrocket due to the massive reduction of polution and toxins in the environment.

Funny, I don't think it would have been too pleasant to ride a bicycle in those days because the streets were all cobble stone! You didn't need to have smooth streets because the trolly didn't need one or the horse and buggy.

I was surprised to see not that many bikes in the photos. Other photos from that era show more bikes. Many streets were paved with bricks. These are not too bad for riding bikes on. They are quite noisy for cars, which I think is one reason most were later covered with blacktop.

Actually, it surprised me that there weren't many horse carriages for personal travel in the pictures either, and no horseback riding whatsoever. (Most of the horses shown were hooked up to wagons for delivering goods, not carriages for personal transportation.) I guess that in the urban areas, the streetcars had mostly superseded horses. This was clearly the Era of the Streetcar. 1900 was the peak of non-automotive transportation. The technology was more advanced than anything before or since.

Roody 12-22-13 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SmallFront (Post 16351402)
Hmm, if you don't think people can look happy even if they are not healthy or living somewhere healthy, I don't know what to say. If you only go by the pictures and have no sense of the historical context, yes, I guess one could say that it all looked healthy.

I have no longing to a "better past", nor do I think that the time depicted is some sort of utopia to aim for.

Every time period has it's good points and bad points. Modern medicine has certainly been a boon. I'm also glad we have computers...not to mention movies, mobile phones, and electric street lights.

But that isn't the point of these photos. The point is to examine what a big modern city looks like in the absence of automobiles. Basically, to me it looks a lot better than what we have now. I think the carfree city is a utopia we should aim for. Maybe not with horse drawn delivery wagons, but drone helicopters from Amazon.com? :)

Ekdog 12-22-13 03:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike (Post 16351230)
Horse and wagon or mules as used by the photographer cited below was the way it was done back in the day.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ered-time.html

I've seen those shots before. They're truly amazing.

dynodonn 12-22-13 04:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16351479)
.....but drone helicopters from Amazon.com? :)

Not even! Can you imagine the noise, and having to duck and cover from all the deliveries being made?

SmallFront 12-22-13 04:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16351479)
Every time period has it's good points and bad points. Modern medicine has certainly been a boon. I'm also glad we have computers...not to mention movies, mobile phones, and electric street lights.

But that isn't the point of these photos. The point is to examine what a big modern city looks like in the absence of automobiles. Basically, to me it looks a lot better than what we have now. I think the carfree city is a utopia we should aim for. Maybe not with horse drawn delivery wagons, but drone helicopters from Amazon.com? :)

The point is that what we see is not a "big modern city", even if some of the buildings has some height to them.

I remember that about ten years ago they had one or two car free sundays in Copenhagen. Taxis and busses were allowed. Unfortunately, as it wasn't something that happened all the time, so many people, including yours truly, went to see the spectacle. Loads of people in the street. But I don't see how it is much better in a general way.

I can see that there is a problem with congestion generally, and we need to figure out a way to have less people on the road. But to aim for completely car free cities is naive at best, and I don't see the need to go to that extreme. I guess I'm not an idealist with things like that. Or rather, I don't see it as an ideal to aim for.

Roody 12-22-13 04:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SmallFront (Post 16351731)
The point is that what we see is not a "big modern city", even if some of the buildings has some height to them.

I remember that about ten years ago they had one or two car free sundays in Copenhagen. Taxis and busses were allowed. Unfortunately, as it wasn't something that happened all the time, so many people, including yours truly, went to see the spectacle. Loads of people in the street. But I don't see how it is much better in a general way.

I can see that there is a problem with congestion generally, and we need to figure out a way to have less people on the road. But to aim for completely car free cities is naive at best, and I don't see the need to go to that extreme. I guess I'm not an idealist with things like that. Or rather, I don't see it as an ideal to aim for.

Nine billion people on earth, with most wanting to live in cities, is not an ideal. It is within a few years of being a reality. It seems likely that all of those people will not be able to have cars, for several reasons. Again, reality, not idealism. In the near future, cars will be discouraged if not banned in city centers.

In fact, your own city already manages to discourage more than half of car commutes. Have you ever wondered what Copenhagen would be like if all the people on bikes and in streetcars were driving cars instead? Remember, there would be not only double cars, but also double street surfaces, parking areas, gas stations, traffic jams, and pollution. You would also need many more bridges, ferries, and tunnels in your archipelago, which are very expensive to build and maintain.

Btw, those are big cities in the photos, mostly, and 1900 is considered by historians to be part of our modern era. There are still a couple people alive who were born in 1900. I bet you're pretty young?

SmallFront 12-22-13 05:09 PM

The reality is that even when cars are allowed (which with those few exceptions are always) people use them to get to work, pick up their three kids or whatever, and they are not driving around constantly. People work and in the meantime, their car is parked.

You see it fit to include everyone who were there out of curiosity on a Sunday and extrapolate that to everyone driving cars, and despite Europe (and I believe the US too) actually having a slight decrease in population from year-to-year, this somehow compares to the world population. And even if it did, there's a wide range between utter congestion and no cars at all. I am falling somewhere in that span.

And, while we're at it: A family of four in a small car takes up less room than the same family on four bikes. And they will often be driving around less time than they would on bikes. Things aren't as black and white as you want it to be.

Okay, I'm done with this, but just let me say that as a family, we now own a single, small car instead of two cars. I am riding a bike instead for most things.

Roody 12-22-13 06:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SmallFront (Post 16351805)
The reality is that even when cars are allowed (which with those few exceptions are always) people use them to get to work, pick up their three kids or whatever, and they are not driving around constantly. People work and in the meantime, their car is parked.

You see it fit to include everyone who were there out of curiosity on a Sunday and extrapolate that to everyone driving cars, and despite Europe (and I believe the US too) actually having a slight decrease in population from year-to-year, this somehow compares to the world population. And even if it did, there's a wide range between utter congestion and no cars at all. I am falling somewhere in that span.

And, while we're at it: A family of four in a small car takes up less room than the same family on four bikes. And they will often be driving around less time than they would on bikes. Things aren't as black and white as you want it to be.

Okay, I'm done with this, but just let me say that as a family, we now own a single, small car instead of two cars. I am riding a bike instead for most things.

Sounds like you're doing great. Keep up the good work! If everybody used cars like you do, there would be no reason to restrict them. And if every city was like Copenhagen, this forum would probably not exist.

I don't know why you become defensive. Nobody here is trying to tell you what you should do or must do. I posted the pictures for those who are interested, not to get somebody upset. I'm glad you took the time to post a dissenting opinion.

i would respond further to your interesting points, but I don't want to upset you more than I already have.
:)

SmallFront 12-22-13 07:51 PM

Not upset, I'm just weary of having what seems like ideological debates where things seem to be black and white. Suffice to say that I agree that people drive more than necessary and could benefit not only others by driving less and riding more, but also benefit themselves immensily.

Roody 12-22-13 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SmallFront (Post 16352139)
Not upset, I'm just weary of having what seems like ideological debates where things seem to be black and white. Suffice to say that I agree that people drive more than necessary and could benefit not only others by driving less and riding more, but also benefit themselves immensily.

Given the topic, black and white seems appropriate. ;)

I am aware that there were many benefits of automobiles, but in some ways they are as outmoded as the horse drawn wagons in the B&W photos.

I-Like-To-Bike 12-22-13 08:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dynodonn (Post 16351658)
Not even! Can you imagine the noise, and having to duck and cover from all the deliveries being made?

For now you will have to imagine it, since Amazon.com drone helicopter delivery is at present nothing but an attention getting smoke and mirror press release.

Roody 12-22-13 08:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike (Post 16352224)
For now you will have to imagine it, since Amazon.com drone helicopter delivery is at present nothing but an attention getting smoke and mirror press release.

And thank goodness for that!

loky1179 12-22-13 09:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16349042)
I found these great photos taken in American cities around 1900. This was the peak of the pre-automobile era. The detail is incredible in these high resolution pictures, especially if you view them on a good monitor. You can read the signs, see the clothing details and details of then new Romanesque architecture. The facial expressions are fascinating as people interact with each other on the big city streets. The photos have the same kind of appeal as a "Where's Waldo?" picture.

I'd be interested in the details you all found interesting. I found horses wearing dresses and Santa Claus. And I only saw one automobile in the entire series of photos. These views would change dramatically in the next 20 years, as cars quickly took over the city streets.

http://rebelmetropolis.org/exploring...he-automobile/

Roody, thanks for sharing these. I LOVE these old photos, and the higher the resolution, the more interesting they are. I think you could conduct a half hour history lesson around each of these photos.

As far as not as many bikes in the photos as you'd expect - I recently read "No Hands - the rise and fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company". I knew about the 1890s bike boom, but I never appreciated how quick and devastating the subsequent crash was. I know biking was still big, but sales at least, had dropped dramatically by the early 1900s.

I'm sure it would have been unimaginable to the people living then to see the change that would happen to every city in just a few short years.

cooker 12-22-13 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roody (Post 16349042)
horses wearing dresses

I wondered if that was part of a wedding (or funeral) procession.

Roody 12-22-13 10:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loky1179 (Post 16352338)
Roody, thanks for sharing these. I LOVE these old photos, and the higher the resolution, the more interesting they are. I think you could conduct a half hour history lesson around each of these photos.

As far as not as many bikes in the photos as you'd expect - I recently read "No Hands - the rise and fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company". I knew about the 1890s bike boom, but I never appreciated how quick and devastating the subsequent crash was. I know biking was still big, but sales at least, had dropped dramatically by the early 1900s.

I'm sure it would have been unimaginable to the people living then to see the change that would happen to every city in just a few short years.

The early 20th century saw an amazing advancement in the use of technology. Between the time my grandmothers were born, in 1901, and the time they graduated from high school, automobiles, aviation, electrification, telephones, indoor plumbing, and radio were widely adopted in America. Hell, even the idea of farm kids--especially girls--graduating from high school was a brand new idea.

I think the automobile was the technology that had the greatest impact on human life, for both good and bad. That's nowhere more evident than where I live, here in Michigan. I don't think even Silicon Valley was as big and booming as Detroit and surrounding areas were in the early 20th century.

********************************************

There are thousands more high resolution photos where these came from. I've been lost in them all weekend:

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