The best and worst is yet to come . . .
Never again will any city have the Power and Mystique of Old Cities, like Istanbul, Peking, Athens, Constantinople, Carthage, et al, because the role they played is no longer necessary.
They were powerful and remained that way because they grew along the one and only highway there was. That one well-traveled, deep formless highway of our oceans, seas, and rivers.
It seems odd today, but up to about 250 years ago there were also Routes and Trails, but not a single City ever developed along even the long Routes across the Gobi or Sahara Deserts. Each back and forth trip, took men and camels years to complete, yet not even one city developed along those ways.
Deep waters were truly the only ‘highway’ and the trails were by Horse, Camel, or walking. Pleasure journeys were unknown.
But with time and exploration, New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans developed, but they too, are on deep waters and even Chicago became a City only after the Erie Canal connected the deep Great Lakes with the deep waters of New York and the Atlantic.
The next ‘highway’ was Railroads, and were the outgrowth of when England built small ‘rails’ into the coal mines, carrying back and forth both men and the coal they dug. England, in time saw RR’s possibilities, and began building large trains for passengers.
Within a twinkle of an eye, RRs were soon built all over the world, through forests, over mountains and rivers, across the Plains,spanning deserts, and in doing so, changed our maps and lives more than at any other time in history. RRs, the world’s second ‘highway’, carried people and everything else needed to build cities anywhere. The deep water ‘highway’ is still used, but RRs did the utterly impossible fete of opening the vast empty inlands of every continent on earth.
In their heyday, Railroads were glorious beyond belief and we’ve yet to see their equal in sheer luxury. Unbelievably expensive, for the Private Passenger Cars made today’s most expensive motor homes look like ‘shanties’.
There were servants, and thousands of Black Americans made their first step into jobs away from the South, on those RRs as waiters, cooks, maids and valets. So unbelievable that those luxury cars became the setting for Books, Movies, and ‘The Orient Express’, an ultra plush railroad going deep into Asia, became a synonym for luxury never before seen or since equaled.
Railroads, for a time, were truly the King of Travel and the world..
Murray, Utah, my hometown owes its existence to RRs. The Smelter (AS&R) could and would not have come into existence without it, and Murray City, like thousands of other cities around the world, was born as merely a Railroad stop. Murray was once but a small sign saying Franklin.
Air Travel came next and as Railroads could not compete with its speed, they quickly lost the luxury travelers and today’s RR’s now carry only a small number of passengers, along with Ore, Coal, Animals, large Equipment and merchandise,
But before anyone could settle down as to what went Air and what went by Rail, came Eisenhower’s Highways, bringing trucks that went beyond a train’s reach, and, with hardly time for a deep breath, came all kinds of busses and vans, which give us almost manufacturer-to-our-door service.
Large cities no longer depend upon deep water, and are built wherever wanted. And with Drones in the offing, today’s cities are further and further away from old Rome, or Constantinople. Yes, much beauty has been lost along the way, but today, cities are no longer built to last forever, and outer beauty is not even considered.
People now travel as never before, but no longer go on Journeys. If we want to be in New York, all we need are a few hours to get there and back. There is no time, as there once was, to get acquainted with fellow travelers, or people along the way. Today, we scarcely have time to read a magazine before we’ve crossed the continent, kept our appointment, and returned.
Yes, transportation has made us One World, and is so far-reaching that it’s also changed our Wars. Today’s war is not nation vs nation, but culture vs culture, and the ‘enemy’ can be right ‘next door’ and yet, with a click of a computer key can enter the Internet Highway, and ‘rain down’ destruction upon some spot on another continent.
Boundaries, for good and bad, are things of the past. Utterly obsolete. We are one World and ‘battle’ lines are unmarked spots scattered helter-skelter, over the globe. Transportation, in its changing forms, has done it all, and hold your breath, for we are just catching glimpses of the infancy of Drones, and the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ of their ultimate potential is yet to be realized.