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Driving Europe

Driving Europe: Building Europe on Roads in the Twentieth Century (Technology and Europe History) (Volume 3)

Frank Schipper
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    Driving Europe
    Book Description:

    Today we can hardly imagine life in Europe without roads and the automobiles that move people and goods around. In fact, the vast majority of movement in Europe takes place on the road. Travelers use the car to explore parts of the continent on their holidays, and goods travel large distances to reach consumers. Indeed, the twentieth century has deservedly been characteried as the century of the car. The situation looked very different around 1900. People crossing national borders by car encountered multiple hurdles on their way. Technically, they imported their vehicle into a neighboring country and had to pay astronomic import duties. Often they needed to pass a driving test in each country they visited. Early on, automobile and touring clubs sought to make life easier for traveling motorists. International negotiations tackled the problems arising from differing regulations. The resulting volume describes everything from the standardied traffic signs that saved human lives on the road to the Europabus taking tourists from Stockholm to Rome in the 1950s. Driving Europe offers a highly original portrait of a Europe built on roads in the course of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2119-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 11-44)

    When the French journalTransmondiadedicated a special issue to Europe in 1958, the German transport minister Hans-Christoph Seebohm wrote a short note on the role of transport in European unification. History, Seebohm claimed, had demonstrated that transport was a helpful tool in bringing about national unification. He predicted that Europe could count on the collaboration of transport in similar ways.² Seebohm’s words came at a time of optimism regarding European integration. The Treaty of Rome, founding the European Economic Community (EEC), had been signed the year before. The Treaty reserved an entire title to transport issues, giving it a...

  2. Chapter 2 Setting the stage – The dawn of the spirit of Geneva, 1898-1921
    (pp. 45-82)

    The cup had the shape of a driving wheel, resting on the heads of two camels. Its golden splendor was put on top of a marble base with a map of the route from Peking to Paris adorned with laurel and oak leaves. Prince Scipione Borghese received the allegoric work of art representing his race of countless hardships amidst the thousands of spectators assembled in the rainyJardins des Tuilerieson 10 August 1907. Earlier that day he had paraded through the centre of Paris in hisItalaautomobile, preceded by a thirty-seat charabanc decorated with Italian and French flags...

  3. Chapter 3 Roads to Europe – Albert Thomas’ European public works, 1929-1937
    (pp. 83-120)

    In 1930 the Parisian journalLa Revue des Vivantsorganized a contest. Who could design the best Europe? The jury included diplomatic and political heavyweights who had known the Geneva machinery for years. The renowned Czechoslovak Minister of Foreign Affairs Edvard Beneš was on the jury together with the British Lord Robert Cecil, a key figure in the establishment of the League of Nations at the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris. Further members were the influential veteran politician Nicolas Politis, an international law scholar and former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Greece, and the poet Paul Valéry who represented France...

  4. Chapter 4 Driving Europe – The League of Nations Road Committee, 1921-1938
    (pp. 121-158)

    Driving a car made motorists transcend their national identity. Motorized traveling created a certain fraternity among motorists. Such fraternal bonds fitted perfectly with the vision ofL’Européen, from the pages of which the quote above has been taken.L’Européenwas one of several well-read publications pertaining to the blossoming Europeanist press of the Interbellum. The Parisian weekly review presented its public with an essentially economic view of Europe interlarded with political analyses and cultural articles.² The weekly was tailored towards an elite public of whom a high percentage owned or was closely familiar with the automobile.³

    In 1930 the journal...

  5. Chapter 5 Setting the stage – The parade of organizations, 1942-1953
    (pp. 159-186)

    If there is one development that makes the period after the Second World War different from prior epochs, it would certainly be the enormous increase in wealth during the 1947-1973 period in many European countries.² Combined with an increase in leisure time this provided one of the necessary conditions for an upsurge in tourism. Part of this tourism moved by bus, but the booming economy of theTrente Glorieusesespecially turned the car into a mass commodity in several countries. Car ownership changed from a privilege into a normality during this period, and the annual family holiday by car became...

  6. Chapter 6 Roads to Europe – The E-road network, 1950-2007
    (pp. 187-218)

    Under the title “Get your kicks on the E3” the Dutch journalist Tijs van den Boomen wrote a series of articles for the Dutch newspaperNRC Handelsbladbetween 12 June and 28 August 1999. The series concerned the fate of the E3, one of the former arteries of the so-called E-road network. The E3 formed part of an extensive network of European main international traffic arteries spanning the continent since 1950. The Inland Transport Committee of the ECE sponsored the network. The route of the E3 was renumbered in 1975, but as one of the former large transversals of the...

  7. Chapter 7 Driving Europe – The operation of Europe’s roads, 1949-1960
    (pp. 219-258)

    Loudly blowing its horn the truck proceeded towards the French border. In a suburb of Copenhagen the Danish trucker had picked up his fellow driver. Together they went full speed ahead across the fields. In the distance a building loomed ahead on the side of the road. Austere border officials summoned the approaching vehicle to stop. They closely examined the content of each and every barrel of butter in the truck’s cargo. Precious time was lost, but as soon as they entered France the truck drivers forgot all of that. During one of their stops at a roadside café, they...

  8. Chapter 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 259-278)

    When asked to assess the state of the process of European integration, economists like E. Tuchtfeld were often exuberant in the late 1950s. They projected European integration would proceed full speed ahead. Tuchtfeld’s quote above demonstrates he was convinced of the important role mobility played in the process. The citation comes from a compilation of essays resulting from two gatherings of twenty-five economists organized by theCentre Européen de la Culturewith a six-month interval. The question mark of its titleDemain l’Europe sans frontières?might just as well have been replaced by an exclamation mark. The compilation came at...

  9. Chapter 9 Epilogue – all quiet in Brussels?
    (pp. 279-288)

    The black stork is a rare appearance among European birds. Though more than half of the global population breeds in Europe, today its numbers in Europe hover somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000.² The secretive animal thrives best in damp primeval forests of the kind found in the valley of the rivulet Rospuda in North-Eastern Poland. Together with other endangered species like the short-toed snakeeagle and the white-backed woodpecker, the cousin of the better-known and more widespread white stork turns the Rospuda valley into a unique peat land that makes the heart of many nature conservationists beat faster.

    The exceptional status...

  10. List of tables and figures
    (pp. 317-319)