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Steam CityRailroads, Urban Space, and Corporate Capitalism in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore$
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David Schley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226720258

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226720395.001.0001

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Tracks in the Streets

Tracks in the Streets

(p.40) 2 Tracks in the Streets
Steam City
David Schley
University of Chicago Press

The citizens of Baltimore largely supported the B&O at its inception, but public consensus soon fractured as Baltimoreans faced, for the first time in history, the question of how to integrate railroad facilities with urban space. This chapter looks at the engineering and political challenges involved in embedding the infrastructure of long-distance communications within the urban environment. Railroad trains, with their fixed paths and frictionless movement, fit uneasily in an urban streetscape characterized by ad hoc traffic patterns. The decision in the 1830s to place railroad tracks in the center of major city thoroughfares prompted questions about urban mobility, the right to the city, and corporate power.

Keywords:   infrastructure, urban space, mobility, traffic, streets, slavery, monopoly, municipal government

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