1940s/1950s cars vs. 1960s cars

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by FedoraFan112390, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    This is what bothered me so much the six months I lived in California -- it was such a culture shock, the way everything was laid out for cars rather than for people. In the East we live in old towns laid out during the Colonial era, everything was optimized for foot travel, and cars are considered more of an annoyance than an absolute necessity. It's possible to get by just fine in most Eastern towns or cities without a car if you work in town, even if there's no public transportation -- but in the West, if you don't have some kind of a car, you're pretty much sunk. I really hated that.
     
  2. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    The kicker is that you really want more than one car out here, especially in the suburban and rural areas, because you really do need the things to go about your daily business and having one's sole automobile in the shop brings daily life to a screeching halt.
     
  3. plain old dave

    plain old dave A-List Customer

    Messages:
    477
    Location:
    East TN
    Same here in Tennessee. Unless you're willing to never leave Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, or maybe Bristol, Kingsport (?) and Johnson City you're going to have a hard time getting around without a car.

    People quit going to downtown Knoxville because "there's nowhere to park." After West Town Mall opened in the 70s and especially after East Towne Mall opened in 1985, the only reason people went to downtown Knoxville was to transact Government business or sign a loan at the main branch of a bank; I remember driving around downtown on Saturdays in the early 90s and noticing how empty it was.

    Only in the last 10 years or so has the idea of Downtown Knoxville as somewhere to go do something not involving work or business taken hold again. The South in general and Appalachia in particular is as car-driven (pardon the pun) as California, apparently.

    Sent from my SM-G386T using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  4. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,130
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    It's just a different scale and it looks different here in So Cal. If you ignore the opportunities to do what seems like anything and everything, you can walk or take public transportation enough places to get by.

    If you lived in a town of 40,000 and you had another town of 80,000 within a medium walk or bus ride, you might feel the need to go few other places. That would be like Venice and Santa Monica, CA. The problem is that there is a interlocking series of cities covering 35,000 square miles and housing 18 million people surrounding you and those possibilities draw you out, for jobs, entertainment and to shop. I don't really advise anyone to live here ... if my family wasn't completely uninterested in moving I'd be somewhere else ... but you get my point. You can treat certain places which are set up as self sufficient small cities as self sufficient small cities if you want, with no loss of opportunity over the same sort of place anywhere else. But possibilities that you wouldn't have elsewhere, better job, school, cheaper prices, etc., draw you out into the rest of the metro area and sooner or later you end up living 20 miles from where you work.

    I don't live in a place nearly as civilized as Santa Monica but unless I'm doing something that is not part of my regular day I never have to get in the car. I walk to the market, movies, many restaurants, dry cleaners, etc. I work at home, so I am blessed, but back when I was working at entertainment companies in different parts of town and didn't own a house I often moved apartments to be close to work. But I have a great advantage, I grew up here and I know the nuances of how to get about and how to make the most of the various neighborhoods.

    However, I also grew up in Southwest Colorado, and that there is AUTOMOBILE country. People drive 30 miles for decent barbecue. Heck, you have to drive to have a conversation. Neither of these areas are as pretty as many parts of the northeast and I love those places where there's a little town every few miles. Just to be obnoxious I'd say that's actually my favorite sort of driving, you get in the car, drive a few minutes on fun twisty roads, and then feel like you actually GOT somewhere. Driving in So Cal and southwest CO you never feel like you are getting anywhere, in one case because you are sitting in traffic, in the other because there's nothing out there but miles and miles of miles and miles.

    However, if you (a theoretical "you," whoever you are) study the situation out carefully or have a reliable native guide and are willing to impose some discipline on yourself, you could live in many parts of LA as if they were isolated small towns when you wanted them to be or parts of a huge metropolis when you chose to expand your horizons. It's only our perception of the place and the potential of it that messes with our minds and traps us in our cars.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There's another part of the culture shock. Here, 40,000 *is* the "big city," and the biggest city in the state doesn't have 80,000 people. We're used to a much, much smaller scale in just about everything. Even the open spaces, up north in Aroostock County where there's nothing but potato farms and forests, aren't "wide open" the way they are in the west, and there simply aren't any flat, straight roads of the sort you see once you're out of the Northeast.

    I lived in Santa Barbara, which -- coming from a town of 1800 people -- seemed like a vast metropolis to me. I never had a car, and had a bike for about six hours until it got stolen, so I spent most of the time I was out there within a radius of a few blocks. Toward the end of my time out there, my roommate bought a 1972 Olds Vista Cruiser, but vandals threw a rock thru the back window and ransacked it looking for drugs, so I figured owning a car would be a losing proposition anyway.

    I'll never forget getting off the bus in Los Angeles for the first time, and choking from the stink in the air. That was the first time I'd ever smelled smog. They told me it had been cleaned up quite a bit, and I couldn't begin to imagine what it was like when it was at its worst.
     
  6. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    15,108
    Location:
    New York City
    I have not owned a car since I moved into NYC in the late '80s (even including an 8 year stretch in Boston in there). As Lizzie points out, NE cities are set up for not having a car. Even the town I grew up in NJ was set up for people to walk (even though almost everyone had a car). My mom and I would walk from our house into "town," but we were an exception. I love not having the responsibility of owning a car - and I like cars, but it became just another thing to take care of (service, fix, replace this, get inspected, etc.). It breaks my heart that we took streetcars / trolleys out of so many towns and communities - a great way to get around a reasonably sized community.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  7. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,680
    Location:
    Alamo Heights ☀️ Texas
    My ’39 Ford is never used for any practical reason & is reserved for “going for a spin,” a term referring to pointless
    jaunts into the countryside during which one attempts to find village teashops outside of which one can park,
    sip Earl Grey & eat fondant fancies under an old oak tree (which almost always also means you will discover a fallen,
    boiled caterpillar at the bottom of the cup) & pretend you’re living in that bit of the 1930s, just in between the
    Great Depression & the rise of Hitler, with the rosy glow around it & which never actually happened. :eek:
     
  8. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,808
    Location:
    Cobourg
    I'm hoping the wonderful strides made in electric batteries, electric motors and electronic controls will give us electric buses soon. Prototypes have been built and are being tested. One idea I like, is an electric bus that connects to a power line when stopped at a bus stop, and gets a quick charge. They already have buses that will run all day on one charge. I don't know if they have considered the problem of heating and air conditioning which use a lot of power. I can see a tiny propane powered engine charging the batteries, and its waste heat used to warm the interior of the bus. With an air conditioner attached to the engine for summer.
     
  9. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,130
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Though it's more crowded you might find it more hospitable now, however. The air is cleaner, crime is lower, vandalism is certainly less. When the smog was at it's worst you tell the chemicals in it by what hurt your lungs or your eyes ... you have to search out the worst places in the whole area on the worst of days to feel even a fraction of that today. With God knows how many more cars on the road, it's a triumph of technology (and much of the crap that makes our cars complicated) ... there's a lot less industry out here now though and that is not good for economic diversity, something the area was known for prior to the 1970s.

    I sometimes have the opposite experience in the Northeast and Northwest. All the trees make me a bit claustrophobic ... I'm used to places where, while there may be big trees, you can often see 30 to 50 miles. I like the sense of mystery, however, in the forests and hills of the Northeast, how around any corner there could be a cool old house or lake or something unexpected.
     
  10. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,130
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    We used to have those buses (you probably did too) that could run electrically on overhead power lines, then start their motor and run where they needed to off the grid. It was a good stop gap measure. Many thought all the wires were ugly but I felt that they fit right in with the gray stone down towns that they were usually found in. I used to enjoy the way they spit sparks when they shifted from one set of wires to another. But that's just me, the local Dieselpunk.

    I always thought it was a HUGE mistake to not make the first hybrid cars something that could be easily used as a taxi. But I guess the car companies knew their strategy, first get the prissy professor types who'll help popularize the technology then move on to other segments.
     
  11. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    Indeed, those densely populated "old" cities aren't nearly so automobile friendly as their more recent, less tightly packed offspring to the south and west. Still, though, once you get more than 50 miles or so away from NYC (or Boston, or Philly, or ... ) you get the same generic sorts of things you get just about anywhere else here in the good ol' automobile-dependent USA: chain stores and shopping malls and parking lots, and suburban neighborhoods full of ranch houses and split levels and two-car garages. Change the vegetation and you may as well be in Arizona or Oregon or Oklahoma as New Jersey or Connecticut.

    For the better part of a century now this culture has been indelibly shaped by automobiles. Just about every settlement that has sprung up since the end of WWII plainly reflects that.

    Cars are so much a part of my life that I can't remember when I first drove one. It started by being plopped down in the Old Man's lap to steer the thing while motoring down some lonesome stretch of highway. I was doing that at such an early age that it stretches back further than my memory. I was driving ramp tugs (those little tractor-like things that tow baggage carts) at SeaTac airport before I was legal to drive on the public roadways (you could get away with that kind of stuff back then; I just forged a birth certificate to make myself two years older). I've owned what must be dozens of motor vehicles of widely varying descriptions since then, and I capably operated all of them. But I make no claim to extraordinary driving skill. I'm a better driver now than I've ever been. My senses and reflexes aren't as sharp as they once were, but my judgement improves with each passing year.
     
  12. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    King County (Seattle) Metro Transit bought a bunch of those "dual mode" buses some decades back. They ran on the overhead power lines, where there were overhead power lines, and on diesel where there weren't. They were controversial from the first, as they were overweight before they had even a single passenger aboard. Hell on the roads, they were.

    I once had an office on the second floor of a 1929-vintage building that overlooked a busy thoroughfare. Viewed from above, the torture subjected on the road from heavy vehicles was plainly apparent. The curbside traffic lanes were deeply rutted.
     
  13. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    That's downright poetic there, 2j's.
     
  14. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Alamo Heights ☀️ Texas



    Alas.... as much as I want to say, "Thank You my friend”,

    I cannot in all good conscience do it for the simple fact that I
    rode the search engine & have merely...:puke: what I read...

    & added a dash here & there.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  15. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,318
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    Well, you're a darned good regurgitator, then.
     
  16. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,808
    Location:
    Cobourg
    Toronto still has trolley cars and trolley buses, and so do a lot of other cities. Soon it will be possible to do away with the trolley wires and run electric buses. This would be the best, cheapest, and cleanest solution to the mass transit problem yet.

    Until we get automatic, self driving electric taxis.
     
  17. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Boston's Green Line trolleys are still a vital part of the "T", and likely will be for a long time to come, not for their "vintage" appeal but because they're *there*, and any attempt to modify any part of the system turns into a gigantic construction disaster, given how byzantine the whole network of tracks and streets in Downtown Boston is.

    [​IMG]

    Up until the mid-twenties, it was possible to ride all the way from coastal Maine to Boston by interurban trolley. With a lot of transfers, but it was possible.
     
  18. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,680
    Location:
    Alamo Heights ☀️ Texas
    Thank You Tonyb, :eek:

    I prayed to the porcelain god most of the time this summer
    when I rode the Sunset Limited to California. (36 hrs.)

    [​IMG]
     
  19. The Reno Kid

    The Reno Kid A-List Customer

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Back in the Biggest Little City
    I have a copy of an interesting book on the rise of the consumer culture and designed obsolescence called Populuxe by Thomas Hine (Knopf, 1987). There's one particular ad Hine uses that I think really encapsulates the spirit of the time. Happily, a quick search revealed that the image is now available as a poster!

    51RWsNlz2BL.jpg

    I laugh every time I think about this image.
     
  20. Panadora

    Panadora Practically Family

    Messages:
    526
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    well, not quite

    [video=youtube;vyrTx9SXkVI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyrTx9SXkVI[/video]
     

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