1st Edition

Spaces of Congestion and Traffic Politics and Technologies in Twentieth-Century London

By David Rooney Copyright 2019
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a political history of urban traffic congestion in the twentieth century, and explores how and why experts from a range of professional disciplines have attempted to solve what they have called ‘the traffic problem’.

    It draws on case studies of historical traffic projects in London to trace the relationship among technologies, infrastructures, politics, and power on the capital’s congested streets. From the visions of urban planners to the concrete realities of engineers, and from the demands of traffic cops and economists to the new world of electronic surveillance, the book examines the political tensions embedded in the streets of our world cities. It also reveals the hand of capital in our traffic landscape.

    This book challenges conventional wisdom on urban traffic congestion, deploying a broad array of historical and material sources to tell a powerful account of how our cities work and why traffic remains such a problem. It is a welcome addition to literature on histories and geographies of urban mobility and will appeal to students and researchers in the fields of urban history, transport studies, historical geography, planning history, and the history of technology.

    1. Introducing the traffic problem 2. The traffic problem in urban planning 3. Engineers, flyovers, and empires 4. Cops, guard rails, and segregation 5. Economists, prices, and markets 6. Scientists, sensors, and surveillance 7. The traffic problem and the mobilities of capital 8. Conclusions and epilogue


    David Rooney has held curatorial positions at both the Science Museum and the National Maritime Museum. Over a 22-year career he has contributed to several critically acclaimed exhibitions and galleries, including the RIBA-award-winning Mathematics: The Winton Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, for which he was lead curator. In 2016 he obtained his PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is now an Honorary Research Associate.