In 1922, it was quite possible, and perhaps inevitable, for a magazine writer to say, “More automobiles and more concrete highways each year prophesy the elimination of congestion in large cities.”

This prophecy is to be found in a long article from Illustrated World for May of 1922, in which the author explains how the automobile will solve all our social problems, because “in a few short years congested cities will give way to great highway boulevards with their wonder shops and municipal and pleasure centers.”

Many scraps of history have been swept under the rug and forgotten, but Dr. Boli has such a fondness for them that he has hurriedly assembled a home for stray bits of history on the Web at a site called “The Historical Spectator.” So far there are four articles, all from the same magazine in the same year. But what fascinating scraps of forgotten history they are: the invention of the record changer, British Columbia’s switch from left-hand to right-hand driving, the introduction of charging by the minute for telephone service, and of course the glorious utopia to come promised by the automobile. As he finds more scraps, Dr. Boli will leave them in the same place.


  1. Martin the Mess says:

    Nope, this one isn’t loading for me, either. The Eclectic Library, Father Pitt, both Flora Pittsburghensis sites, the Lateral Cut, and Urbane load properly. The Harding-Agnew Campaign, I Wish I’d Said That, Mr. Magundi Speaks His Mind, and this new site all consistently fail to load. Which is a real shame, for the non-loading ones tend to be my favorites of your works. The main Celebrated Magazine site, of course, also loads, so I am not entirely bereft of edutainment.

    • Dr. Boli says:

      You might try one more time; there were some lags as the creaky old server struggled to keep up with the initial traffic. If you can simply never get this site and the others you mention to load, your network administrator (or ISP) might have placed a block on the domains used by these free servers. Sometimes criminal hackers will establish a site on one of these servers to push malware; it is usually shut down quickly, but nervous network administrators have been known to block the entire domains. On the other hand, Urbane, the Eclectic Library, and the Flora Pittsburghensis reference site all use the same free hosting service (but with different domains).

      If the sites are being blocked, your only alternative may be a proxy, unless your network administrator has blocked those, too.

  2. Captain DaFt says:

    Interestingly, I once read an article from the same time period heralding the rise of the automobile as the solution to big city pollution.*
    It seems that the major cities of the day were struggling to cope with the hundreds of thousands of tons of horse manure that were piling up on the streets every year, and the automobile produced only puffs of smoke that wafted away on the breeze.

    Of course, 40 years later, the auto was cursed as the major cause of air pollution in major cities and major efforts were made to counter the problem.

    *The local library had hardbound copies of Modern Mechanics dating back to the founding of the magazine, interesting reading for a look at early twentieth century tech, and how they thought the future would turn out

  3. Jason says:

    As of the 23rd at 8:40, Chrome cannot find the link you posted for the Historical Spectator: http://spectator.site11.com/ .

    I can’t wait to see it though. I work in a library and have pulled out a couple of volumes of “Popular Mechanics” from the 1930’s for things like advice on how to find more storage space in your automobile.

  4. Dr. Boli says:

    The server has been inaccessible far too often in the past few days. These difficulties are usually temporary, so if the site will not load, come back in a few minutes. Many apologies for the inconvenience.

  5. Greybeard says:

    I occasionally find some of your sites fail to load, but far more often I find that Mr. Magundi doesn’t speak his mind often enough.

    BTW – The Salmagundi was the name of the community college newspaper I wrote for back in the early eighties. I wasn’t a journalism major, but volunteering to write an article every other week for the college paper gave me use of an office with a typewriter on campus.

  6. Dr. Boli says:

    Mr. Magundi is migrating to Flatpress, which should make his site more accessible more often.

  7. Caren says:

    I remember seeing an article about how the miracle of television would enable us to learn Latin at home.

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