Urban mobility, city experience and the rise of public transport: 1880-1960

University of Antwerp
Universität Antwerpen/ EAUH
02.09.2020 - 05.09.2020
Dieter Schott

M-TRA 2: Urban mobility, city experience and the rise of public transport: 1880-1960

Departing from the general theme of the EAUH-conference 2020 ‘Cities in Motion’, this session aims to understand, how public transit shaped and to what degree it altered mobilities and urban experiences of both urban dwellers and tourists at times, when cities expanded quickly and when it became impossible and unattractive to master the increased distances to out-of-city destinations by traditional modes of transport.
The set-up and diffusion of modern public transit networks in European cities from the 1880s onwards had major effects for the way how cities and their adjacent countryside could be experienced and appropriated by urbanites. Electric and steam driven tramways and rapid transit systems such as underground or light rail systems frequently took their departure or terminus from popular leisure destinations at the (then) edge of the city such as scenic hills, forest parks, zoos, forest cemeteries, amusement parks or sports arenas. Before public transit became the principal agent for work mobility, leisure use frequently was almost as important. In many European electric tramway systems around 1900, Sunday was the peak day of passenger use. And leisure places in the city centre such as theatres, opera houses, music halls, continued to be visited by middle-class audiences notwithstanding their trend towards relocating in the suburbs, thanks to urban transit. Public transport furthermore enabled tourists visiting cities to navigate and visit a variety of urban and peri-urban sites in compressed time and at lesser costs compared to the traditional tourist using private coaches.
We invite paper-givers to address research questions such as the following:
- How did public transit influence urban experiences of both urban dwellers and tourists?
- How did urbanites gain and develop a more comprehensive image of the city and the landscape it was embedded in?
- Did maps of transit systems influence and shape mental maps urbanites generated and the way urbanites and tourists moved about in cities?
- How did public transit systems tap the need for short term recreation and leisure at the edge of the city?
- Was there a clear policy of transit companies to exploit this market and when, how and why did this emerge?
- How did travellers and tourists use public transit to gain an appreciation of the city?
- What can be learned about the consequences of growing urbanites’ mobility for the adjacent periurban regions?
We encourage submissions, which discuss these and similar questions from a cultural history perspective open for neighbouring subdisciplines such as urban environmental history or the history of technology. Proposals which encompass a comparative perspective are particularly welcome.
We invite colleagues, who are interested in participating and would like to discuss their ideas with the session organizers before formal submission to contact the organizers.
For formal submission of a session proposal please visit the conference website: https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/conferences/eauh2020/papers/

Martin Knoll (University of Salzburg) <martin.knoll@sbg.ac.at>
Dieter Schott (TU Darmstadt) <schott@pg.tu-darmstadt.de>



Dieter Schott
Institut für Geschichte, TU Darmstadt


Urban mobility, city experience and the rise of public transport: 1880-1960, 02.09.2020 – 05.09.2020 Antwerpen, in: Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists, 09.07.2019, <www.connections.clio-online.net/event/id/termine-40727>.
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