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LECTURE: Schrag, "Planning the Washington Metro, 1955-1968"

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  • asha.weinstein@sjsu.edu
    ... Wendy Plotkin Sent by: H-NET Urban History Discussion List 10/28/2003 04:47 PM Please respond to H-NET
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      ----- Forwarded by Asha Weinstein/SJSU on 10/28/2003 05:21 PM -----

      Wendy Plotkin <wplotkin@...>
      Sent by: H-NET Urban History Discussion List <H-URBAN@...>
      10/28/2003 04:47 PM
      Please respond to H-NET Urban History Discussion List

      To: H-URBAN@...
      Subject: LECTURE: Schrag, "Planning the Washington Metro, 1955-1968"

      From: Jonathan Mason <jimason@...>


      The Fall 2003 Transportation History Lecture
      (sponsored by the University of California Transportation Center)

      Zachary Schrag
      Assistant Professor of History
      Columbia University

      Thursday, October 30, 2003
      180 Tan Hall
      University of California, Berkeley campus

      "Reading Between the Lines: Planning the Washington Metro, 1955-1968"

      The Washington Metro is a hybrid technology, combining the long reach
      of a commuter rail network with the frequent service and underground
      downtown stations of an urban subway. People familiar with other
      cities are often puzzled by this combination. Those accustomed to the
      New York subway expect flat fares and closely spaced stations. In
      contrast, those more familiar with commuter-rail systems, including
      San Francisco's BART, are likely to gasp at Metro's $10 billion cost,
      not understanding that Metro's urban sections required extensive
      tunneling. Only when Metro's true function is understood does its
      form make any sense. It is a metropolitan system, designed to serve
      both city and suburb and to bind them into a working whole.

      To explain how it got that way, I will present the three models
      proposed for rail transit in Washington--models which I term the
      suburban, urban, and metropolitan alternatives. Not coincidentally,
      these three models correspond--more or less--to the administrations
      of three presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. Since George
      Washington selected its location in 1790, Washington, D.C., has
      reflected the goals of federal leaders, and Metro is very much a part
      of that history. While Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson
      were only occasionally directly engaged in transportation planning,
      their priorities and their ideas about cities, government, and
      democracy shaped the proposals for transportation in Washington. The
      system finally authorized in 1968 embodies Johnson's ideas in
      particular, and Metro serves as a physical monument to Great Society

      Jonathan Mason
      Institute of Urban and Regional Development
      University of California at Berkeley
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