How the car changed the American landscape

How the car changed the American landscape


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Our culture is connected by many long and strange roads, not all of them physical either. There are a lot of little connections you might not think about at first but slowly, as you look deeper, you begin to see how prevalent they are. You begin to see how things are, how they were and how they could be if people just took the time to open their eyes a little farther. Often times, things in culture are a certain way only because people or groups of people just assume that’s the way they have to be. Everything from used car lots to used cars themselves, to the idea of the family car to the idea of the family itself and the way the family is constructed are all open to innovation if people just open themselves up. For example, car dealerships are often run in a very rigid way but there are new car dealerships, such as new suv dealerships or buick terrain dealerships, that have begun to experiment with new routes in price and customer service. By experimenting just a bit, something as complicated as inventing and selling new cars can be made interesting and fun. It isn’t just the cars themselves, though. Our whole nationwide infrastructure can change when presented with new ways of living and thinking. Let’s take a slightly closer look and approach to this.

    The start of our infrastructure
    To better understand this idea, we need to go back to a time before our infrastructure looked the way it did. Let’s go way back, then, to a time before new cars, used cars, cars at all or paved roads or even electricity. The world of the early eighteen hundreds looked very different than our own, both socially and in the way it was physically built. What did a village in rural Massachusetts look like during this time, for example? Well, for starters it would probably be closely packed together. The buildings would all be put together in a certain formation and often protected by a wall. It wasn’t medieval levels of protection but it was enough to ensure that all of the citizens were safe. The people all knew each other and knew every road out of town as well as all the people who would be coming and going. Many of these villages were tight knit villages, based around family and fear of the outsider. For as problematic as that seems to us now, for them it was a matter of caution and safety. They’d know about other towns and places, of course. They wouldn’t be unfriendly. But they’d be safe and keep their families and crops safe.
    Worlds changing, roads changing
    Why illustrate all of this, this world without new cars or lights or machines? What difference does it make to the idea of infrastructure changing? Well, to answer that we need to look at the way transportation and movement changed as the century progressed. Let’s look at that same village seventy years later when it was on the dawn of the twentieth century. It was still fairly closed, at least by our standards, but it was being opened up by all new inventions and communications coming in. More than that, the invention of the car was just on the horizon which was going to completely alter the way that Americans lived their lives. It’s hard to discuss just how important this invention was because of just how many things it changed.
    The great road change
    Fast forward a few more decades and the car is becoming more ubiquitous and less of just a plaything for the very rich. It was becoming a staple of the middle class and getting around. When modernism increased factory production and Henry Ford invented the assembly line, it became even more of a staple. New cars were available to everyone and so the infrastructure shifted again. The towns grew more open and wider than they had been. Suddenly things could be much farther apart than they had been before. This was the start of America of today, a place of freedom and no borders.

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