I’m waiting on a train.
My grandparents live on a narrow cul-de-sac just north of a small town in Michigan. Behind the house, down the hill and across a big field of corn lie the tracks for Amtrak’s Blue Water and Wolverine routes from Chicago to Detroit and Port Huron. I’m seven, I’m in second grade, and I spend a lot of time at this house. Four times a day, the iconic locomotive zips across the field and out of sight behind some scrubby trees, the stainless steel glinting in the sun. The tracks are pretty far away, but the whistle is loud and clear across the field and always draws my attention.
My grandpa and I watch the train from the back porch. I remember asking him the same questions again and again. I know it’s a train, and I know that trains take people places, but I don’t understand why we never take it anywhere since it runs right behind the house. “We have cars now, Missy,” is always his answer. Then who takes the train? “Other people take the train, to Detroit and to Chicago,” he says. But not us? “Nope, not us.” Why not? “Because we have cars now.” Ok. Maybe someday we’ll take the train? “Yes, maybe someday.” This conversation repeats itself for years, and I never really understand what makes us different from the people who take the train. But even at such a young age, the conversation with my grandpa makes it clear to me that trains are a part of America’s past: something that has been replaced by cars and planes.
In many ways, this project is an attempt to resolve those circular conversations about the fate and future of the American railroad. To even begin to address these questions, I needed to know about the history of the railroad and urbanism in nineteenth and twentieth century America, as well as the history of the railroad and the urbanism of high-speed rail in several international contexts. I would also be remiss if I didn’t attempt to apply some of my research in the form of a case study. Yet such a broad research inquiry was really too much to tackle in a two-year fellowship. So my approach was tactical: a broad grounding of the spatial implications of the railroad in America (Part 1), a deeper analysis of international examples of high-speed rail (Part 2), and a brief, experimental application of the research in a case study (Part 3). In reality, I could have spent two years on each of these parts alone, and would have enjoyed doing so.
In order to cover all this ground in just two years, I have relied heavily on the important research of others: geographer John C. Hudson, historians Christian Wolmar and Paul Wallace Gates, authors James McCommon, Jacob Meunier, and Tom Zoellner, and urban designer Rob Lane’s work on megaregions have been of particular help. I’ve also traveled extensively, exploring nineteen countries, wandering through hundreds of cities and train stations, and riding a variety of trains on over 36,000 miles of track. (For reference, that’s about 1.5 times around the Earth.) I’ve read articles and books, visited museums, met with planners and government agencies, talked with my mentors, worked with my friends, and argued with my editor. But more than anything, I just rode the trains and observed the passengers, the stations, the cities, and the nations at the forefront of high-speed rail—it is these observations that inform the bulk of the research.
The completion of this project is, in no small way, attributable to a number of people who supported me by graciously offering their time for conversation, advice, and the sharing of knowledge. Although I had a wonderful network of support throughout the research, any errors or oversights are mine alone and suggestions for improvement will be welcomed. I offer a humble thank-you to the following people and organizations:
TRAVEL HOSTS AND COMPANIONS
- • Mike Borsare
- • Ryan Bruels
- • Ashley Dunn
- • Christian Ervin
- • Dongsei Kim
TEXAS CHARRETTE HOST
TEXAS CHARRETTE PARTICIPANTS
- • Nicolas Rivard, Urban Designer, Overland Partners
- • Lizzie MacWille, Project Manager, bc Studio
- • Emily McMillan, Designer, bc Studio
- • Chris Lazaro, Urban Planner, City of San Antonio
- • Antonio Petrov, Professor, University of Texas San Antonio
- • Ryan Westrom
- • Maite Pena-Alcaraz
- • James McCommon
- • Tom Hane, Site Manager, B&O Railroad Museum: Ellicot City Station
- • California State High Speed Rail Authority
- • Rob Lane, RPA
- • Petra Todorovich-Messick, Amtrak
WEBSITE AND RESEARCH CREDITS
- • Greg Nemes and his design team at Work-Shop
- • Matthew Bennett at Cascadia Editors Collective
- • Tom Klein, Research Assistant
- • Britt Ambruson, Research Assistant
- • Sophie Bignet, Research Assistant
- • The Boston Architectural College Library
- • The Baker Library at the Harvard Business
- • The Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design
Special thanks to Prof. Alex Krieger, for his constant support, helpful advice, and the occasional pep talk; to Mr. Ron Druker, patron of the Druker Traveling Fellowship; and to the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University for administering the fellowship and supporting the research with access to academic resources.
TRAIN STATIONS VISITED
- • Railway Museum, Japan
- • SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, Japan
- • California State Rail Museum, USA
- • New York Transit Museum, USA
- • North Carolina Transportation Museum, USA
- • Smithsonian Museum of American History, America on the Move, USA
- • B&O Railroad Museum, USA
- • The Henry Ford Museum, USA
- • Museum of the Great Western Railway, England
- • National Railway Museum, England
- • Museu Nacional Ferroviaro, Portugal
- • Museo del Ferrocarril de Madrid, Spain
- • Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya, Spain
- • Museo Nazionale Ferroviario di Pietrarsa, Italy
- • Swiss Museum of Transport, Switzerland
- • La Cité du Train de Mulhouse, France
- • Spoorwegmuseum, Netherlands
- • Technisches Museum Wien, Austria
- • DB Museum, Germany
- • Central Railway Museum, Russia
- • Shanghai Railway Museum, China
- • China Railway Museum, China
- • Korean Railroad Museum, South Korea
I am happy to share all of the data I have collected and generated as a part of this research. Please contact me via email if you would like to discuss this project and my findings.
Assumption Century of Progress. Assumption Centennial Committee. 1953.
"City of Freeport.", http://www.ci.freeport.il.us/about/freeporthistory.htm.
Combined History of Randolph, Monroe and Perry Counties, Illinois: With Illustrations Descriptive of their Scenery and Biographical Sketches of some of their Prominent Men and Pioneers 199.
Combined History of Shelby & Moultrie Counties: With Illustrations Descriptive of their Scenery, and Biographical Sketches of some of their Prominent Men and Pioneers 1881. Brink, McDonough & Company.
Encyclopedia of Illinois and the History of Lee County 1904., edited by Mr. A. C. Bardwell. Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company.
"History." The Village of DeSoto., http://www.villageofdesoto.com/history.html.
History of DeWitt County 1882. Brink (W.R.) & Co.
"History of Effingham County Townships.", http://www.frontiernet.net/~kevinperkins/Townships.htm.
"History of Eldena." http://genealogytrails.com/ill/lee/leecityeldena.html.
History of Fayette County, Illinois 1878. Brink, McDonough & Co.
History of Fayette County, Illinois: with Illustrations Descriptive of its Scenery, and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers 1878. Unigraphic.
History of La Salle County, Illinois : Together with Sketches of its Cities, Villages and Towns, Educational, Religious, Civil, Military, and Political History, Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Representative Citizens : Also a Condensed History of Illinois, Embodying Accounts of Prehistoric Races, Aborigines, Winnebago and Black Hawk Wars, and a Brief Review of its Civil and Political History 1886. Chicago: Inter-state Pub. Co.
History of Washington County, Illinois, 1879. Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough & Co.
Moweaqua Centennial, 1852-1952, Souvenir Program : October 2-3-4, 1952, Moweaqua, Illinois . 1952: Moweaqua Centennial Association.
Pana, Illinois, City of Roses, Centennial, 1856-1956, July 1-4 . 1956: Pana Centennial, Inc.
El Paso Story: The Centennial Book of El Paso, Illinois . 1954.
Past and Present of the City of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois. 1903.
The Past and Present of Woodford County, Illinois. 1878.
Sublette, Illinois, our Bit of U.S.A.: Sublette Centennial, August 17-18, 1957. 1957.
Allen, John and Chris Hamnett. A Shrinking World?: Global Unevenness and Inequality . Milton Keynes : Oxford ; New York: NY. 1995.
Amtrak Staff. 2011. Amtrak: An American Story. Kalmbach Books.
Appleyard, Donald, Lynch, Kevin, and Myer, John Randolph. The View from the Road. Cambridge,: Published for the Joint Center for Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University by the M.I.T. Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1964.
Banister, David and Research Council Economic and Social. Transport and Urban Development. 1st ed. London; New York: NY, 1995.
Brink, McDonough &. Co. 1972. History of Macon County, Illinois. with Illustrations Descriptive of the Scenery and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers . Philadelphia, Evansville, Ind.: Brink, McDonough, Unigraph.
Brinkerhoff, J. H. G. 1909. Brinkerhoff's History of Marion County, Illinois, edited by B.F. Bowen & Co. Indianapolis, Ind.: B. F. Bowen & Company.
Burt, John Spencer and Hawthorne, W.E. Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties. Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company. 1907.
Callary, Edward. 2009. Place Names of Illinois . Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
City of Oglesby. 2009. 2009 City of Oglesby Comprehensive Plan .
Cresswell, Tim and Peter Merriman. 2011. Geographies of Mobilities : Practices, Spaces, Subjects. Farnham, Surrey ;Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Duthilleul, Jean-Marie. 2008. Jean-Marie Duthilleul and Etienne Tricaud : AREP , edited by Etienne Tricaud, François Lamarre. Mulgrave, Vic.:.
Easterling, Keller, 1999. Organization Space : Landscapes, Highways, and Houses in America. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Edwards, Brian. 2011. Sustainability and the Design of Transport Interchanges . New York, NY:.
Ford, Henry A. 1860. "Earliest
Historical Facts of Marshall-Putnam Counties
also Bureau and Stark Counties."
Frailey, Fred W. 2010. Twilight of the Great Trains . Expanded ed. Bloomington.
Fulwider, Addison L. 1910. History of Stephenson County, Illinois: A Record of its Settlement, Organization, and Three- Quarters of a Century of Progress , edited by S.J. Clarke Publishing Company.
Goddard, Stephen B. 1994. Getting There: The Epic Struggle between Road and Rail in the American Century . New York: NY.
Gordon, Sarah. 1996. Passage to Union: How the Railroads Transformed American Life, 1829-1929 . Chicago, IL.
Graham, Stephen, and Simon Marvin. 2001. Splintering Urbanism : Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition . London; New York: Routledge.
Grant, H. R. 2012. Railroads and the American People . Bloomington.
H.F. Kett &Amp and Co. The History of Ogle County, Illinois: Containing a History of the County, its Cities, Towns, etc., a Biographical Directory of its Citizens, War Record of its Volunteers in the Late Rebellion, General and Local Statistics, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of the Northwest, History of Illinois.
H.F. Kett &Amp and Co. 1878. The History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois: Containing a History of the County, its Cities, Towns, etc., a Biographical Directory of its Citizens, War Record of its Volunteers in the Late Rebellion ... History of the Northwest, History of Illinois ... Constitution of the United States .
Hamm, Ruth Bitting. 1976. The Hudson Colony . Hudson, Ill.: Hudson Bicentennial Commission.
Hanson, Susan and Genevieve Giuliano. 2004. The Geography of Urban Transportation. 3rd ed. ed. New York:.
Harvey, David. 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity : An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change . Oxford England] ;Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Hood, Christopher P. (Christopher Philip). 2006. Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan. London ; New York:.
Hudson, John C. 1985. Plains Country Towns. Minneapolis.
Jones, Will. 2006. New Transport Architecture: Travel Hubs in the 21st Century MITCH.
Kern, Stephen. 1983. The Culture of Time and Space 1880-1918 . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
La Salle, (Ill ). 1952. La Salle, Illinois: An Historical Sketch .
Ladd, Marta Cates and Constance Schneider Kimball. 1976. History of Coles County, 1876-1976 : Coles County, Illinois. S.l.]: Charleston and Mattoon Bicentennial Commission.
Lansden, John McMurray. 1976. A History of the City of Cairo, Illinois , edited by Robert L. Lansden, Alexander County (Ill.). Board of County Commissioners and Alexander-Pulaski U.S. Bicentennial Commission. Carbondale: Published for Alexander-Pulaski U.S. Bicentennial Commission, the Board of County Commissioners of Alexander County, and Robert L. Lansden by Southern Illinois University Press, Project MUSE.
Le Baron, Wm., Jr. & Co., Chicago, Pub. 1879. The History of McLean County, Illinois; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, . Chicago: W. Le Baron, Jr.
Leonard, Lulu. 1941. History of Union County .
Lustgarten, Abrahm. 2008. China's Great Train : Beijing's Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet . 1st ed. ed. New York:.
Mason, Edward Gay. 1881. Illinois in the Eighteenth Century: Kaskaskia and its Parish Records, Old Fort Chartres, and Col. John Todds Recordbook .
McCommons, James. 2009. Waiting on a Train : The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service . White River Junction, Vt.:.
McCoy, Wilbert. "Spit and Whittle from Bucky's Bench.", http://genealogytrails.com/ill/washington/ashleyhistory.html.
Merriman, Peter. 2012. Mobility, Space and Culture . Abingdon, Oxon ;New York: Routledge.
Meunier, Jacob. 2001. On the Fast Track: French Railway Modernization and the Origins of the TGV, 1944-1983 Praeger.
Moyer, W. N. 1944. Moyer's Brief History of Pulaski County, 1843- 1943 . , edited by J. L. Wall, Joseph O'Sullivan and Pulaski Enterprise.
Neal, D. A. (D. 1818. Business Records, 1818-1898 (Inclusive) .
Newsome, Edmund. 1894. Historical Sketches of Jackson County, Illinois : Giving some Account of the Early Settlement of the County, and of Every Town and City in the County ; Together with a Description of the Physical Geography of the County, and the Navigation of its Principal River by Steam . Carbondale, Ill.: E. Newsome.
Niles, Henry Clay [From Old Catalog]. 1876. History of Douglas County, Illinois.
Ovenden, Mark. 2011. Railway Maps of the World Viking.
P. W. B. Semmens. 2000. High Speed in Japan: Shinkansen - the World's Busiest High-Speed Railway Platform 5 Publishing Ltd.
Pulaski County History, Book Committee. 1987. Pulaski County, Illinois, 1987. Paducah, Ky.: Turner Pub. Co.
Reps, John William. 1992. The Making of Urban America : A History of City Planning in the United States . Princeton, N.J. ; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Rosenberg, Daniel. 2010. Cartographies of Time , edited by Anthony Grafton. 1st ed. ed. New York:.
Schwieterman, Joseph P. 2001. When the Railroad Leaves Town : American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment , edited by Dick Durbin. Kirksville, MO:.
———. 2001. When the Railroad Leaves Town : American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment , edited by Dick Durbin. Kirksville, MO:.
Solomon, Brian. 2013. North American Railroad Family Trees: An Infographic History of the Industry's Mergers and Evolution Voyageur Press.
Spiekermann, K. and M. Wegener. 1994. "The Shrinking Continent: New Time-Space Maps of Europe." Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 21 (6).
Stover, John F. 1975. History of the Illinois Central Railroad . New York:.
———. 1999. The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American Railroads , edited by Mark C. (Mark Christopher) Carnes. New York.
Sugiura, Kohei. 2014. Jikan no Hida Kukan no Shiwa Jikan Chizu no Kokoromi : Sugiura Kohei Daiaguramu Korekushon Kajimashuppankai.
Thorne, Martha and of Chicago Art Institute. 2001. Modern Trains and Splendid Stations : Architecture, Design, and Rail Travel for the Twenty-First Century . London:.
Todorovich, Petra, Daniel Schned, and Rob Lane. 2011 . High-Speed Rail: International Lessons for U.S. Policy Makers: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Uffelen, Chris van. 2010. Stations. Salenstein : London:.
Vranich, Joseph. 2004. End of the Line : The Failure of Amtrak Reform and the Future of America's Passenger Trains , edited by American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Washington, D.C.:.
Westwood, John and Wood, Ian. 2008. Historical Atlas of North American Railroads Chartwell Books, Inc.
Wolmar, Christian. 2012. The Great Railroad Revolution : The History of Trains in America . 1st US ed. ed. New York:.
Zoellner, Tom. 2014. Train : Riding the Rails that Created the Modern World : From the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief . New York, New York:.