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Episode 4: The Tyranny of Wheels

Cities in the United States are known globally as being built for the automobile, but this wasn’t always the case. 


Before World War Two, Rochester like most American cities, had a dense well connected street grid which allowed for close knit and strong communities. Trolley and bus lines transported the masses around and made traveling to downtown relatively easy. Downtown was the center of commerce and the place to go for shopping and work. Following the war, governmental policy carried many Rochesterians out of the city to newly created suburbs and these suburbanites would commute to downtown in their newly purchased automobiles. 


Why did American cities like Rochester give up their streets to the automobile at the detriment to pedestrians and cyclists alike? Why did Rochester’s trolley system vanish? Why were bicyclists blamed for their own deaths? In The Tyranny of Wheels, we explore Rochester’s transformation and bulldozing to make way for the automobile.

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Alyssa Koh

Sound Engineer

Henry Litsky


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