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Daniel Gamini
Mr. Smith
Patterns of Civilization - D Block
21 January 2016
Cars as the Advent of Suburban Society
Ever since Karl Benz built the first Benz-Patent Motorwagen in 1886 the entire world
changed. With the creation of the automobile the barrier of transportation was crossed, both
literally and metaphorically. The automobile created mobility on a scale never known before, and
the total effect on living habits and social customs is endless. The development and evolution of
the automobile changed landscapes in The United States of America, Germany, and Japan in
similar ways, such as changing suburbs into bustling cities and is one of the main causes of the
formation of our world in the shape and form that it currently is.
Because of cars, landscapes were changed and our towns and cities were formed in
particular ways, such as to accommodate for them. As shown in, Car Country: an
Environmental History, America, developed in a way that gave people the freedom to express
themselves and use their cars in whatever way they chose to. With the new creation that was
quickly spreading across the world, people in America, just as other countries, was excited and
hopeful for the future of seamless transportation. Rather than having horses and trains as the
main forms of transportation, around the beginning of the 19th century with the invention and
mass production of cars such as the Ford Model T, small towns were soon transformed into
bustling cities. The most prevalent explanation for the remarkable success of the automobile in
America is the ubiquitous Love-affair thesis, which suggests that Americans fell in love with
automobile and once enamored did whatever was necessary to accommodate for them (Wells, 5).

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Although the automobile was invented in Europe, mass production as the basis for mass
marketing was developed and established in the United States (Shimokawa 1). Even
considering all of the negatives of the automobile, the peoples love for cars was too strong, and
in no time, labor forces and construction workers were hired to construct massive roads, streets
and highways to connect towns, cities and even states together! People of all classes, both social
and economical, began to take whatever actions necessary in order to acquire this new creation
that would change their lives forever. Unlike before, when there were lots of small towns where
people moved about by horse and by foot, with the car, small towns began joining together to
create large cities. Taxes were raised and large amounts of funding was required to create
massive spans of road (199). Large landscapes were changed in order to make room for these
roads. Hills and even small mountains were flattened, trees were cut down, and animals were
relocated without second thought (Automobile in American Life and Society). A historian has
said that Henry Ford freed common people from the limitations of their geography. In the days of
horse-drawn transportation, the practical limit of wagon travel was 10 to 15 miles, so that meant
any community or individual farm more than 15 miles from a city, a railroad, or a navigable
waterway was isolated from the mainstream of economic and social life. Motor vehicles and
paved roads have narrowed the gap between rural and urban life. Farmers can ship easily and
economically by truck and can drive to town when it is convenient. In addition, such institutions
as regional schools and hospitals are now accessible by bus and car (Josh Brancheau, History).
The effect on city life has been more prominent than the effect on the farms. The automobile has
radically changed city life by accelerating the outward expansion of population into the suburbs.
The suburban trend is emphasized by the fact that highway transportation encourages business
and industry to move outward to sites where land is cheaper, where access by car and truck is

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easier than in crowded cities, and where space is available for their one or two story structures.
Better roads were constructed, which further increased travel throughout the nation. As with
other automobile-related phenomena, the trend is most noticeable in the United States but is
rapidly appearing elsewhere in the world. People were willing to do anything for this new and
intriguing invention. Comparing various places before and after the car is very interesting as
landscapes show little to no resemblance to their former shapes.
Similar to the extravagant measures taken by Americans to adapt landscapes and
lifestyles for the new piece of technology called the car, Europe as a whole, particularly
Germany also changed. Karl Benz was a German engine designer and engineer, generally
regarded as the inventor of the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine, and
together with Bertha Benz, pioneering founder of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
which is now one of the leading car brands (GTAI). His revolutionary methods of using the
internal combustion chamber were essential to the progression of the automobile. In Germany,
similar to America and other countries, the idea of being able to move so freely without
restriction was greatly liked by the people. The thought of not having to rely on public
transportation appealed to the masses. Long stretches of roads were created and linked towns and
cities together. In Mannheim, where the car was invented, landscapes were radically changed.
Rather than having a carriage with many horses that required caring for, a car, which had the
same power of nearly 40 horses was much more appealing and logical (Motor World, 1163).
Even with this though, as Christopher Wells says, the countries in Europe still have lots of means
of public transportation, as opposed to America, which has next to none. Whether this was
intentionally done by the governments of respective countries is questionable and near
impossible to prove. Very similar to how landscapes in America changed, small towns in

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Germany became bustling cities; however in Europe countries still tried to keep the same city
format and layout as it was before cars. As a result, the amount of wide open country road like
the one that can be found in America are somewhat rare in Germany. Because of the easy
mobility and access the car provided, Germany was united into one whole. According to Wells,
before the car, people were separated by land barriers. People lived in their own small and towns
and didnt move very far from them. With the drastic changes to landscape to create roads towns
were connected, causing Germany to be united. Huge buildings and centers were built and
people who were once limited to their own home town could now freely move about the entire
Lastly, Japan, which is also a major car manufacturing country took an approach that is
similar, but also different to that of other countries. As Koichi Shimokawa says in his book,
Japan and the Global Automotive Industry, the lean-production system in Japan changed the
entire country as a whole. Not only was the geography altered, but also the mindset of the people
and inhabitants. (Shimokawa 122). Japans automobile industry was on the verge of the
significant change at the start of the twenty first century. The automobile industry accounts for
about 10 percent of the gross national product. Unlike America where the landscapes evolved
into large stretches of open road and some places were turned into areas of dense construction,
Japan, particularly Tokyo, developed into a large city. For the first time in history, with the
creation of the car, cities that were once connected with dirt roads were changed into asphalt and
concrete. In order for such roads to be constructed, large amounts of land were flattened. The
effects of the car was not only on the landscapes that was changing but also on the people and
animals. Hundreds of laborers were needed for the construction of these roads. Animals living
these areas were forced to relocate. This automotive industry changed landscape not only

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because roads were needed, but manufacturing plants and places where these cars were built also
took up lots of space. Japan is the second greatest automotive industry in the world (the first
being Germany) and this has given thousands of workers jobs, but has also forced hills and
mountains to be flattened for the construction of production plants. This is true in both America
and Germany.
In conclusion, because the whole world has very similar cars and similar needs and uses
for them, our cities and even countries were formed in very similar ways. It is interesting how
various countries combatted issues related to cars and to compare the outcomes in different
places. As shown, Germany, Japan and the U.S. were very different before the invention of the
car, but afterwards because their uses and needs were similar, all countries adapted their
landscapes to accommodate for them similarly. However, with the creation of the automobile, the
need for oil and fossil fuels was much greater as cars needed them in order to run. Because of the
expense and toil on earth these fossil fuels caused (such as pollution), other methods for
powering cars have been researched such as electricity and hydrogen. How these inventions will
affect the future is unknown and only time can tell.