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Traditions of Change: The Restructuring of European Transport Systems Before Motorisation Wandel mit Tradition: Die europäischen Verkehrssysteme vor der Motorisierung

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This essay provides a brief overview of the emergence of systems of transport preceding the advent of individual motorisation around 1900. While the success story of railways in the 19th century is well known, earlier developments in European transportation systems are usually acknowledged only in passing. Since the Middle Ages, however, changes in transportation such as switching from oxen to horses as draft animals, the emergence of coach travel for the upper classes in the 16th and 17th centuries, the establishment of postal services and the construction of canal systems successively exerted a deep influence on local and regional economies as well as mentalities and world views of the general populace. With these contexts in mind, current ecological problems caused by transportation may appear to be deeply rooted in pre-industrial developments. While the seemingly evolutionary character of the regular sequence of transport revolutions throughout Western history seems to limit the possibility of radical changes in our mobility, historical studies might, at least, serve to better understand the interplay of actors that yields change in transportation systems.

Historisch betrachtet scheinen sich Verkehrssysteme beinahe evolutionär zu entwickeln. Die Rückschau zeigt aber auch, daßnicht nur wirtschaftliche Faktoren ihren Wandel bestimmen – ein wichtiger Hinweis für den ökologischen Umbau des heutigen Verkehrs.


Language: German

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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