The Abnormal Origins of Normal: The Legitimation of the Motor Age Street

  • University of Hartford Wilde Auditorium 200 Bloomfield Avenue West Hartford CT

Join CNU New England for an evening seminar with Peter Norton, author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. 

Despite recent trends that better serve other street users, standards still overwhelmingly favor the driver’s perspective.  How did auto-centric standards become normal standards?  Learn from Peter Norton’s vigorous investigation on the history of the Motor Vehicle.

Though typically represented as the product of rational engineering guided by mass preferences, the status quo was actually the prize in a struggle between competing street users.  In the 1920s advocates for automobiles, who called themselves motordom, saw rational engineering and mass preferences as the enemy, and strove to redefine both. To legitimize its success, motordom then retold the messy story of the automobile’s rise in the American city as the inevitable consequence of technological superiority, mass preference, and American values.  This story remains an unappreciated impediment to efforts to better serve street users.


When: Thursday, March 12th, 7PM
Where: University of Hartford Wilde Auditorium, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford CT 

General admission is $10 / $5 for students and includes light refreshments. Please RSVP to let us know that you're coming. 

Peter Norton
Peter Norton is a historian of technology with particular interests in streets and people. He is an associate professor in the University of Virginia's Department of Engineering and Society, where he has taught since 1998. He is the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (MIT Press).

We gratefully acknowledge our event sponsors: 

Allan P. Mackinnon
Anita Gelston Ballek
The Center for Transportation and Livable Systems at the University of Connecticut
The JCJ Architecture Endowment of the University of Hartford Department of Architecture