The World beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe

The World beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe


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Since the early twentieth century, when mass production of automobiles began, the view through the car windshield has redefined how we see the world around us. Highways, whether we detest or delight in them, have likewise become a pervasive feature of nearly every U.S. and European landscape. In designing some roads, such as the American parkway, engineers sought to create an aesthetic visual experience for travelers; with others, such as the Italian autostrada, the primary goal was direct, efficient transportation. These differing design priorities were neither accidental nor inevitable but the outcome of complex historical negotiations influenced by many factors, including political ideology, local geography, and national ethos.

The World beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe is a wide-ranging comparative study of roads and their historical development. Contributors to this volume explore the relationship between highways and the landscapes they traverse, define, deface, or enhance. Through analyses of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Needles Highway, and the Washington Beltway, as well as iconic roads in Italy, Nazi Germany, the former East Germany, and postwar Britain, these authors document the transatlantic exchange of ideas about technology and environment. In the process, they also demonstrate how these ideas have been appropriated for national and nationalistic ends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780821417683
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Publication date: 04/15/2008
Edition description: 1
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Christof Mauch holds the chair in history at the Amerika-Institut of the University of Munich and was previously the director of the German Historical Institute in Washington. He is the editor and author of more than twenty books, including Nature in German History; Berlin-Washington, 1800-2000: Capital Cities, Cultural Representation, and National Identities; Geschichte der USA; and Shades of Green: Environmental Activism around the Globe.

Thomas Zeller is an associate professor at the University of Maryland, where he teaches the history of technology, environmental history, and science and technology studies. He is the author of Driving Germany: The Landscape of the German Autobahn, 1930–1970 and coeditor of How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich and Rivers in History: Designing and Conceiving Waterways in Europe and North America.

Table of Contents

List of Figures     ix
Foreword   David E. Nye     xi
Acknowledgments     xv
Introduction   Christof Mauch   Thomas Zeller     1
Driving Cultures and the Meaning of Roads: Some Comparative Examples   Rudy J. Koshar     14
The Rise and Decline of the American Parkway   Timothy Davis     35
The Scenic Is Political: Creating Natural and Cultural Landscapes along America's Blue Ridge Parkway   Anne Mitchell Whisnant     59
"A Feeling Almost beyond Description": Scenic Roads in South Dakota's Custer State Park, 1919-32   Suzanne Julin     79
"Neon, Junk, and Ruined Landscape": Competing Visions of America's Roadsides and the Highway Beautification Act of 1965   Carl A. Zimring     94
A Rough Modernization: Landscapes and Highways in Twentieth-Century Italy   Massimo Moraglio     108
Building and Rebuilding the Landscape of the Autobahn, 1930-70   Thomas Zeller     125
Socialist Highways?: Appropriating the Autobahn in the German Democratic Republic   Axel Dossmann     143
"'Beautified' Is a Vile Phrase": The Politics and Aesthetics of Landscaping Roads in Pre- and Postwar Britain   Peter Merriman     168
Physical and Social Constructions of the CapitalBeltway   Jeremy L. Korr     187
Notes     211
Contributors     271
Index     275

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