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The Coming of the Automobile.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The Coming of the Automobile.

Joseph Pennell
The New York Times
February 10, 1900

Joseph Pennell in The Contemporary Review.

There is no use shutting our eyes any longer to the fact that the motor is the coming vehicle.  The opposition of Parliament—with its desire to foster light railways, which ruin the roads, if they enrich contractors and company promoters possibly members of Parliament as well—the silly restrictions of the police, and the County Council tramway and omnibus schemes for the moment interfere with this industry.  But any one of sense knows that in ten years the automobile will be as common as the horse in the streets to-day, and the horse will then be as occasional as the automobile is now.  It may be in less time, for the boom is almost upon us.  The motor industry will probably have as checkered a career as the cycle, for exactly the same men are mixed up in it.  So far, it has developed here but slowly on the surface, because England is conservative, and also because the cycle makers, to protect themselves, naturally have done everything they could do to retard it, at any rate until should get rid of their stock.  But any one who travels in Great Britain cannot fail to note how, here and there, motor cars, and not infrequently the inferior and second-hand ones, are taken over by motor car companies, and are appearing in cities like Edinburgh and Newcastle, where you are carried almost as cheaply and ten times more rapidly and pleasantly than by tram or by trolley.  Why any Government should allow more streets to be torn up for more wires, to be run above or under ground, is simply inconceivable, unless it is a source of profit.

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