The Horse as an Urban Technology

Freight and passengers have always needed to be transported in urban areas, even before the advent of motor vehicles. This paper describes the role that horses played in 19th century urban transportation. Although the railroad was efficient at transporting goods and people over long distances, much intracity transport was done through the use of horses. Cities depended on horse for internal freight movement, public transportation, private travel and emergency services. Horses were seen primarily as machines, and their efficiency was closely monitored. However, the emotional and intellectual attributes of horses were somewhat recognized. Horses that did not become nervous from sensory overload were valued, as were horses that could learn routes. Horses had many insurmountable limitations as efficient machines, including externalities such as manure, noise, and short lifespan. When electric streetcars and later motor trucks and cars were developed, the horse quickly became obsolete as a form of urban transportation.


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  • Accession Number: 01109975
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 31 2008 8:10AM