How The Car Conquered The World

An email course by James Wilt on how public transit was destroyed and the car became king.

The car culture of North America did not develop accidentally. It was the planned result of a long and vicious fight by corporate interests to undermine public transit and sell private automobiles. In this email course, James Wilt — author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? Public Transit in the Age of Google, Uber, and Elon Musk — explores the history of suburban sprawl and car culture, and how we can build a better future with high-quality public transit for all.

Reading #1

The Invention of Car Culture

The dominance of the private car was not a naturally-occurring phenomena. It had to be engineered by those who stood to profit. Meet the corporations and lobbyists who undermined public transit and brought us car culture, suburbs, and sprawl.

Reading #2

The Suburbs

The adoption of private cars and the spread of the suburbs went hand in hand. How did these trends come about and whose interest did they serve?

Reading #3

Fantasies, Illusions, and the Future of Cars

Fantasies of electric, self-driving, on-demand cars has animated dreams about the future of transport. But these innovations rest on false promises designed more to boost share prices than improve lives.

Reading #4

Better Living Through Public Transit

Why public transit that’s reliable, comfortable, and affordable is the key not only to a better transportation system, but a better standard of living for everyone.