Friday, March 22, 2013

The Automobile Craze Has Finally come To New York


As long as man has been around, he has always found a way to transport himself and the things that he needs, from one location to another. Transportation is essential to trade and travel, whether we live in big Cities or small town, U.S.A. We entrust our livelihood, food supply and social lives to it. The wheeled vehicle, was one of man’s most important technological developments. We are heavily dependent on it to go from one destination to the other. New York’s interstate, major roadways and bridges are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses inching their way through bumper-to-bumper traffic. Millions of motorists dread this daily commute, while some may be resigned to accept growing gridlock as a way of life. One can definitely say that the amount of time that angry and frustrated motorists spends in traffic congestion has tripled or quadrupled over the years. So let’s pause and take a backward glance at where it all began.

There is no doubt that at one time the bicycle was considered a plaything or a luxury, and reserved to the elite who paid an exorbitant price for it, but gradually as the automobile began to make its presence known, the bicycle became an indispensable means of transportation to millions of the working class who employed them.

Men in America, France, Germany and England began to experiment with the motorization of the bicycle. Carl Benz in Germany produced a benzine-powered tricycle in 1885, L.D. Copeland of Philadelphia invented a steam-driven tricycle in 1885, De Dion and Bouton’s gasoline tricycle was entered in the Paris-Marseilles-Paris race for automobile vehicles in 1897, Andrew Riker, of Brooklyn, N.Y. introduced his Electric motor cycle and Louis S. Clarke contributed his gasoline tricycle in 1897. Then came Henry Ford’s first Car “The Quadricycle” so named because it ran on four bicycle tires. Henry Ford was one of the several automotive pioneers who helped this country become a nation of motorists.

The automobile began to make it’s appearance in the streets in the late nineties, and were being turned out by the thousands. Where once the bicycle shops were in abundance, we find their places taken by many more garages and showrooms for the sale and repair of the automobile.

A reporter from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle comments on the automobile craze that has affected the residents of Brooklyn, New York in his article “Brooklyn Has Automobile craze in its Most Virgulent Form.” dated September 22, 1901.

“Manufacturers of and dealers in automobiles are more surprised than any one else over the growing popularity of those vehicles. Factories everywhere are working over time in a futile effort to keep up with orders. At first the public did not take very kindly to automobiles. They were regarded as hard to manage, rather dangerous and a trifle expensive. Gradually, however, as the novelty wore off, the public became more interested. Today, with the precincts of Greater New York alone, there are more than 3,000 automobiles of every shape, make and description, owned by private individuals, not counting those known as hacks, owned by transportation companies. Brooklyn, particularly, has the automobile craze in its most virulent form. Those who follow the industry assert that in another year there will be more than double the present number in Greater New York. So enormous is the demand for automobiles at present that on August 1 last the price was raised $100 on all styles. Such vehicles as Vanderbilt’s White Ghost and the Red Rover cost in the neighborhood of $6,000 each. Automobiles seem to be more popular in Flatbush than in any other part of Brooklyn, or perhaps any other part of Greater New York. People who own automobiles are mostly people of means and the majority of them own their own homes. “

By 1921 Henry Ford was building a million cars a year. “Ford and his two chief rivals, General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation produced four-fifths of all automobiles in this country.” The auto manufacturers in their attempt to make their vehicles more affordable would offer the consumer a time-payment plan, which encouraged and enabled the consumer to buy the cars which otherwise would have been out of reach for the average wage earner. As a result of the availability and expansion of consumer credit, sales of goods and services increased. Over a period of time there were 23 million cars on the highways. The automobile revolutionized the use of leisure time. Families were able to leave the surroundings of their homes and partake of sports, beaches, parks, flock to theaters, and visit amusement areas. The automobile offered families opportunities for travel all over the country…

Did somebody say “Leisure Time? ” Goodness gracious…its not the 1920s but 2013. This scenario is not only limited to the workday schedule but is also seen throughout the summer months, when people seek out the beaches, parks and other forms of recreational activities as a way to relax from the hurry-scurry of the week, yet there isn’t a relaxed face in a carload. Here and there along the highways, one can see stranded motorists standing in the sweltering, dizzying heat, beside their car that either had a flat tire, broke down, overheated, or ran out of gas thus worsening the weekend congestion of pleasure seekers.

Once the road is cleared desperate motorists speed away frantically searching for a gas station only to find themselves once again trapped in an enormous queue of fifty to maybe a 100 cars inching their way to the pumps, hoping that the gas would not run out. Not to mention the long lines at the station’s beyond nasty unsanitary bathrooms leaving the motorists in a state of bewilderment on which of the two they should tackle first. Mother nature or get gas?

Manhattan, is where the greatest passenger traffic movement originates, develops and is distributed to the neighboring boroughs. This is where the overwhelming congestion of vehicles and passengers are moving everywhere and at the same time nowhere within the narrow and confined limits of the island, thus creating transportation problems that is becoming much more difficult to solve. Oh dear! The automobile….what will we do without it!

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Old Comments

  • It’s been 6 years now. Any updates of the automobile in New York?

    Posted by radu23  on  01/09  at  07:56 AM
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