Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Hub of Progress

So my parents got me an awesome book on the History of Houston's street railways. On page 92 there's a flyer that has a picture of a streetcar, a bus and an interurban railcar in the center of a wheel. On the outside ends of the spokes there are pictures of destinations along the line such as shops, suburbs, factories, homes, offices, churches etc. The title of the flyer is "The Hub of Progress"

The text is just as interesting:
The hub around which the wheel of prosperity turns in city life is the transportation system.

Houston has grown very rapidly - to become one of the nation's leading cities, the streetcar, bus, and interurban transportation in a large way made possible the Houston of today.

They help to build new residential sections, they carry customers to the merchant, patrons to the theater and are the means by which the great army of wage earners go to and from their place of employment.

Their value to a city cannot be measured in dollars and cents. (emphasis added)
Perhaps we should remember that. Transit systems are often over analyzed in terms of cost and under analyzed in terms of benefits. We can use streetcars and interurbans to build the cities of tomorrow, while remembering that they built some of the best neighborhoods of today.


Thomas said...

This is an excellent book. Well-researched with lots of great historic photos. The author was recently provided with a collection of Houston Electric memorabilia that was acquired at the estate sale of somebody who worked for HECo and its descendant bus operators, including National City Lines, HouTrans and METRO. The author has plans to use that information to eventually create a web-only update to Houston Electric.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I'd like to see that. I just looked through the pictures so far but the book looks like a good read too. Tons of facts and lessons.

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