Podcast #24 – The Genesis of Car Country with Christopher Wells

This podcast this week is a conversation with Christopher Wells, a professor of Environmental Studies at Macalester College in St Paul. Christopher has just published the book Car Country, an environmental history of the American automobile landscape. In his book, Professor Wells narrates a history of the birth of American automobile society, focusing in particular on the links between the automobile, government policy, and the evolution of auto-dependent land use. The book is a rich history of the early 20th century and how the different cultural, intuitional, and economic interests converged to create a built environment where the private car becomes the only possible choice for moving around American cities.

I sat down with Chris early this week in his office on the Macalaster College campus, in St Paul’s Mac-Groveland neighborhood. We had a long conversation about the early motorcar era, the revolution of the Model T Ford, and the gradual expansion of automobile oriented space until it reached every corner of American society. This is one of my historical passions, and we had a great conversation about why the USA looks so different from other parts of the world, where cars are less of a necessity and more of a luxury. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

The link to the audio is here. Check out the full monty on iTunes.



Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.