The common refrain about American culture is that we are wedded to our cars. Much of the culture we associate with America is post-war culture born of mass suburbanization beginning in the Eisenhower administration of the early 1950s. Car manufacturers used their clout with our elected officials to transform streets once the public domain of commerce and leisure, to traffic conduits alone. Terms like jaywalking were born of a necessity for car companies to sell their vision of personal independence at the expense of our public space.
On President's Day it's helpful to remember it wasn't always this way. A kinder, gentler America where personal choice for mobility meant more than a combustion engine once existed. The Atlantic looks back to this time. Happy President's Day! Or rather, Happy Bicycle Day!