And commuting was born


Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Except this was published in The Times on July 1, 1901. Today, we shake our heads when we read about someone who works in Santa Monica or downtown Los Angeles and lives in the Inland Empire or the Antelope Valley or in South Orange County. But it’s no different than what people were doing more than a century ago. And we can’t blame the automobile in this era. It’s the streetcar system that allows people to live far from where they work.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Architecture, Freeways, Real Estate, Transportation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to And commuting was born

  1. Paul says:

    Streetcar systems were used to lure people out to the suburbs. For example, streetcar lines were built through San Diego’s North Park neighborhood long before many people lived there. The streetcar lines were part of the bait to get people to buy plots of land for their homes: “Much of this streetcar system was constructed by John D. Spreckels as an economic development generator. Spreckels’ theory was that “transportation determines the flow of population.” (


  2. Riley says:

    The real estate was the real money. Henry Huntington was the most prominent of these developers. . Buy and subdivide an area, then run the rail line to it.


  3. D. Griffing says:

    So… is it safe to say then that the proliferation of the automobile further encouraged an existing trend toward commuting?
    I’m just confirming yours as a 3rd party opinion to back me up in an ongoing debate of what the automobile meant in terms of increased energy consumption.
    Thank you.


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