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Impacts Caused by the Automobile in American Society between 1890 and 1925


Impacts Caused by the Automobile in American Society between 1890 and 1925

In the course of history, the automobile has become one of the most important inventions in America. It has replaced horses, railroad and bicycle as a mode of transportation. According to Heitmann, the automobile has become more than a mode of transport (4). It is an expression of individuality. They come in different colors, shapes and sizes to suit the American’s lifestyle and personalities bearing in mind that 95 percent of the Americans households own a car (Chase 6). It has truly revolutionized many parts of the world and especially America both socially and economically. Although some might argue that the automobile technology has resulted in a huge number of lost lives in highways, and other places, there has also been a positive effect on Americans society due to the invention especially between 1890 and 1925.

The automobile is considered an “evolution of ideas and actions” (Dutton 3). Engineer Joseph Cugnote is considered to be the man behind the invention of the automobile by historians. His first steam engine having three wheels and a top speed of 4km/h, had to stop at different intervals to gain more steam power before proceeding.

Between 1890 and 1920, the automobile played a huge role in the development of Americans society. Services such as health and education were able to reach the  isolated places like rural areas (Hillstrom et al. 180). Physicians, for example, adopted the horseless carriage automobile very well in these early years. They could tend to patients quickly and respond to a wider community unlike when they depended on horses. After the introduction of the low cost Fordson tractor in 1920’s farmers realized that to own one, not only will it make things much easier, but it will increase production and reduce crop prices.

Another impact was the growth of  churches. Families had a wider choice of where they wanted to worship due to the ease of travel. However, this also impacted the way the service was being conducted. Due to the reduced time spent travelling to and from church, the Sundays were reduced from a community event to an hourly service.

The automobile also saw the expansion of commercial markets. Building of new highways became an advantage to those who wanted to put up their own businesses and travel everywhere to market their products. The growth of massive departmental stores such as Woolworth, built in 1900, is a clear indication of the market growth. Even though entrepreneurs experienced a stiff competition among themselves, sales were reported to increase on an annual basis due to the ease of maneuver.

On crime and policing, the automobile created its own challenges. Criminals could escape using the automobile without a trace since they could use different roads to escape arrest, unlike before where they could jump onto a train or a boat latter be monitored and apprehended at the dock or a train station with ease. To handle this situation, the police decided to concentrate power at one central point where they could monitor crimes. According to Hillstrom et al., the growth of mobile criminals also forced the police to create highway patrol units and passed National Motor Theft Act (NMTA) of 1919 that gave powers to federal government to punish criminals. (182)

Long before the automobile, streets in New York were viewed as a place to catch up, socialize, children’s play ground and to set up shops. However, this changed as the number of automobiles increased. Before the World War 1, more than 1,000 children were struck dead by the automobile in New York alone (Hillstrom et al.). The rising reports of accidents and deaths, forced the authority to restrict these areas and only to be used for travel (183).

In conclusion, the automobile played a huge role in American society in the early years and especially in rural areas. Farmers were able to take their produce for sale with ease and professionals such as physicians no longer relied on horses to deliver their services. Although it had its own challenges, the invention of the automobile is one of the best to date.

Work cited

Chase, Robin. Car-Sharing Offers Convenience, Saves Money And Helps The Environment. 1st ed. 2015. Print.

Dutton, Khai. A Brief History Of The Car. 1st ed. 2015. Print

Heitmann, John A. The Automobile and American Life. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2009. Print.

Hillstrom, Kevin, and Laurie C. Hillstrom. The Industrial Revolution in America: Automobiles. Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2006. Print.


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