Transportation: They Say We Had a Revolution (Part 2)

STUDENT'S VERSION

This lesson printed from:
http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lid=865&type=student

INTRODUCTION

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Fold a piece of paper so that it has three columns. At the top of the first column, write "Invention." At the top of the second and third columns, write "Innovation" and "Infrastructure," respectively. Find at least five examples of each as you complete the lesson.

Invention is the creation of a new object or process. One of the technological inventions that most significantly contributed to the Transportation Revolution was the steam engine.

Innovations change how people use preexisting ideas and products. For example, steam engines were adapted as a new power source for preexisting transport technologies: boats and railroads.

Infrastructure is the set of interconnected elements that support the use of inventions and innovations. Examples of transportation infrastructure are roads, bridges, tunnels, canals, rail lines, and ports.

TASK

You will explore how the changes in transportation helped transform the U.S. and its economy during the 20th century.

PROCESS

As the 19th century came to a close, most Americans lived in rural areas but had begun moving to the cities in record numbers. City residents worked and shopped close to where they lived. Most people walked. Wealthier individuals owned horse-drawn carriages. A number of cities had begun to build electric streetcar (trolley) systems as an alternative to the use of horsepower. Streetcars traveled faster and farther; they were also relatively inexpensive to ride. From a sanitation perspective, they were also a lot healthier than all the manure in the streets generated by horses!
Bike
Bicycling was another increasingly popular way to get around. Invented in 1869, the bicycle was the first personal mechanical mode of transportation. Both men and women were thrilled by the sense of freedom the new invention gave them. Take a step back in time with this video clip showing transportation on city streets in Washington, D.C. in 1900. When traveling from one city to another, railways and waterways were the preferred means of transport. Trains sped across the United States along thousands of miles of track carrying people and freight. Between 1900 and 1950, inventors and innovators tinkered with how they could use recently developed engines and new fuels to further break down geographic limits on travel. View this video clip, which shows some of their achievements.

Transportation Technology, 1900-1950

Video
Video and Read-Along Text
 

MOTORIZED TRANSPORT GETS PERSONAL

 

Click on the image to learn more about each different solution to the transportation problem.

Automobiles
Car
Road Sign
Roads
Airlines
Airplane
Airport
Airports


Use what you have just read and this chart of specifications on some of the most significant planes of the 20th century to answer the questions that follow.

Significant Planes of the Twentieth Century

Plane

Date

Top Speed

Altitude Ceiling

Range

Maximum Passengers

Ford Trimotor

1926

130

14,500

500

12

Boeing 247

1933

200

25,400

745

10

Douglas DC-3

1935

192

20,800

1495

28

Boeing Model 314
(Clipper Flying Boat)

1938

199

19,600

5200

74

Lockheed L-649
(Constellation)

1943

352

35,000

5100

95

DC-6

1946

308

28,000

2990

102

Boeing 707 (Jet)

1958

600

41,000

3000

181

Boeing 747 (JumboJet)

1969

640

45,000

6000

374-524

Concorde

1969

1350

60,000

4500

128

Airbus 380
(Super Jumbo Jet)

2005

595

42,950

8000

555-840

 

STEP BACK IN TIME

Take a virtual time trip back to the 20th century and watch as these transportation changes occurred. See how many more inventions, innovations, and improvements in infrastructure you can identify.

Transportation Infrastructure, 1900-1950

Video
Video and Read-Along Text

Transportation Infrastructure, 1950-2000

Video
Video and Read-Along-Text

Transportation Technology, 1950-2000

Video
Video and Read-Along Text

THE ECONOMIC IMPACT

Lower Opportunity Costs

When people travel, they consider the amount of time it will take to get from point A to point B. Time is considered a cost; travelers could be using time spent traveling doing something else. This chart offers a glimpse at how aviation reduced the opportunity cost of transatlantic travel for passengers during the 1900s.

Time to Cross the Atlantic

(New York – London)

 

Ship

Air

1910

6 days

 

1925

 

81 hours (Dirigible)

1940

 

14 hours (Sea Plane)

1950

3.5 days

11 hours (Propeller Plane)

1960

 

9 hours (Jet)

1980

 

8 hours (Jet)
3.5 hours (Supersonic)


A similar impact occurred with travel across the nation. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, it was possible to travel from New York to California in five or six days. Today, the trip can be made by plane in six hours

From City to Suburb

The invention of the automobile at the turn of the century gave people a new freedom to travel when and where they wanted. As cars became more affordable to the general public, road building took off. Local, state, and federal dollars built millions of miles of roads, paving the nation's future. A phenomenal change occurred as to how (and where) people would live, work, and play.

The change is most noticeable after World War II as suburban housing developments spread across the landscape. People could live in the suburbs and commute to work in the city. Metropolitan areas were roughly 50% suburban and 50% urban in 1950. At the end of the century, the ratio was closer to two-thirds suburban and rising.

Over time, businesses started to follow people to the suburbs. Stores moved from downtown to the edges of cities and suburban strips. Shopping centers and malls were created with plenty of room for shoppers to park their vehicles. Many new businesses were also springing up to cater to car owners: such as gas stations, tire stores, auto repair shops and so on.

Many people began taking to the road for pleasure. Automobiles and highways gave people the ability to travel on their own across the nation. Motels, restaurants, and gas stations kept long-distance motorists fed, rested, and ready to go. New tourist attractions popped up, and tourism became a much more important industry.

A Global Marketplace

During the 20th century, the world also became a much smaller place. The development of aviation as well as modern shipping made it possible for people and goods to move between countries  quickly and cheaply. Producers could reach markets almost anyplace in the world. Business partnerships and alliances developed around the globe. Consumers were given access to a broader range of goods at lower prices.

Obviously, different countries have different terrains, climates, resources, etc. As a result, some nations are able to produce some goods that other countries cannot produce or can produce only at extremely high costs. For example, Globebananas do not grow easily in the United States, but they flourish in Central American countries with tropical climates such as Honduras and Costa Rica. We can grow bananas in the United States if we use hothouses, but it is cheaper for us to buy the bananas from the other nations than to produce them ourselves.

Nations specialization surplus products they are able to produce and importing what they cannot or choose not to produce. Major U.S. imports include petroleum, automobiles and auto parts, office machines, iron and steel, clothing, footwear, fish, coffee, and diamonds. Major U.S. exports include automobiles, computers, aircraft, scientific instruments, corn, wheat, soybeans, coal, chemicals, and plastics. About half of our exports go to Canada, Japan, and countries in the European Community. Exports account for about 10 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Many U.S. jobs now depend on world trade.

Expanding global trade has had benefits and costs. Can you distinguish between the two? Click here to complete the interactive.

CONCLUSION

During the 19th century, new transport technologies and infrastructure - particularly the railroad - dramatically reduced the cost of moving people and goods within the United States and encouraged people to move west. In the century that followed, advancements in technology and investments in transportation infrastructure continued to have a significant impact on the movement of people and goods. During this era, it was automobiles that made it possible for people to move from the cities to the suburbs. Other advancements such as aviation and improvements in shipping helped create a global economy. New industries such as auto and truck manufacturing, motor vehicle maintenance, aviation, long-haul trucking and tourism also appeared, creating new jobs. The overall impact was continued economic development and economic growth.

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

1. Have you ever opened the hood of your car and wondered what was going on in there? A car engine can look like a big confusing jumble of metal, tubes, and wires to the uninitiated. Find out what is happening by using these web links from How Stuff Works.

The Internal Combustion Engine
How Car Engines Work
How Horsepower Works

2. Development of the interstate highway system, like most government programs, had its supporters and opponents. It was clear early on that some people would benefit while others would be harmed by the project. Divide a sheet of paper in half lengthwise. On one side, list the "winners" who benefited and the reasons why. On the other side, list the "losers" who were negatively impacted. In hindsight, debate whether the benefits outweighed the costs. These web links will help you research your stance:

Transportation Infrastructure, 1950-2000
Suburban Strip
City and Suburb

3. Read a book about one of the people or companies that had a significant role in 20th century transportation. Henry Ford, Horatio Jackson, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Charles Lindbergh, and the Boeing Company are a just a few of the hundreds of possible choices.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3