Greater City Providence

Hint, Hint…

As has been widely reported, Team Obama is on their way to the inauguration via rail in what we all can hope will be symbolic of a greater mass transit push in the years ahead. One national newscast even described Joseph Biden as the “nation’s most famous, frequent Amtrak rider.”

While, for the purpose of message, I would have loved to see the Obamas take something more akin to an Acela than the throwback, heritage railcar they appropriated, I think we’ll all take what we can get…

Bret Ancowitz


  • This Washington Post article from August discusses Vice President-Elect Biden’s 30 years of commuting from Delaware to D.C. via Amtrak.

  • I think that’s a Pullman car that he rode in, which is an interesting little symbol in and of itself, but not in the most obvious way.

    As the name suggests, they were invented and manufactured by George Pullman, starting in the mid 19th century. They were the original sleeping cars. In 1880 the Pullman Company founded their own town, Pullman, just south of Chicago. George Pullman viewed it as a way to promote his company by reforming the existing system of company towns; he built everything according to a master urban plan, including high quality workers’ housing, monumental public buildings, and well designed parks, boulevards, and other public spaces. The model proved highly successful in the beginning, and workers showed up in huge numbers to take advantage of what seemed to be sort of a utopia. Pretty much everything from transportation, to food, to healthcare was still provided and controlled tightly by the company though. Unfortunately the whole thing crashed and burned in the 1890s recession, as the company cut back wages but did not scale back the cost of rent, utilities, or any of the other goods and services in the town. The workers struck, and eventually the supreme court ordered the company to sell of the town, which was annexed by Chicago in 1899. All the housing and other buildings in the town not associated with the factory were sold off to private owners shortly after.

    Holy history lesson, batman!

Providence, RI
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