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Congestion as a Cultural Construct: The ‘Congestion Evil'
Journal of Transport History (2006)
  • Asha W. Agrawal, San Jose State University

Both in the 1890s and in the 1920s Bostonians complained endlessly about traffic congestion. An unexplained question that lies behind all the alarmist statements, however, is: why did they believe congestion mattered? What were the negative consequences they associated with traffic congestion? This article explores the reasons why Bostonians thought that congestion in the downtown business district was a problem, looking comparatively across the two eras. The article investigates how locals publicly debating the city's traffic policy defined the problems caused by traffic congestion, analyses how perceptions about congestion evolved across the two time periods, and finally explains how some of the differences - and similarities - can be explained by two transformations in urban life and government during that thirtyyear period: the changes in transport technology and the evolving professionalisation of transport planning and engineering.

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Citation Information
Asha W. Agrawal. "Congestion as a Cultural Construct: The ‘Congestion Evil'" Journal of Transport History Vol. 27 Iss. 2 (2006)
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