Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The past and the future



I can't think of anything to say about the inauguration that has not been said endlessly, so instead I will reprint this early 20th-century photo of Lucan, just outside Dublin.

Notice that, while people mostly used horse carts and carriages, there were also electric rail lines through town, that could swiftly (for the time) take one across the country or the city.

I am researching lost tram (streetcar) lines, and will write more about that soon, but for now I will simply say this: this intersection looks much the same today, but with the narrow roads clogged with commuter traffic. You would never see this road as open -- or as quiet, I'm sure -- as it was then, nor could children play near the road today, nor would the bloodstream of the inhabitants be filled with various lead compounds, nor had the climate begun to change severely.

Yet even if these double-decker trams ran at only 30 clicks an hour -- a pace most of us find glacial today -- they would get you to your destination faster than a modern traffic jam through the same town.

If we do this right, this may also be a picture of fifty or a hundred years from now.

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