• Who's Really to Blame for America's Lousy Transit Systems?

    Historian Nicholas Dagen Bloom says that American politicians, especially at the municipal level, made a series of choices that diverted resources from mass transit to auto transportation. Neither racism nor the market nor secret conspiracies by industry made these choices inevitable.

  • What Airports Can Tell Us About Histories of Regional Development

    by Eric Porter

    From the perspective of travelers, airports appear as generic "non-places." But for people who aren't just passing through—entrepreneurs, activists, and especially workers—their particularity makes them sites of struggle that shape the life of a region. Historians have much to learn from them, too. 

  • The Lost Art of Maintenance

    The struggles of the New York transit system to preserve the useful life of its train cars, and to prevent problems before they occur, reflects deep and troubling changes in society's relationship to infrastructure and labor power. 

  • Mr. Biden, Tear Down this Highway

    It's time to stop expanding the urban highways that divide communities, perpetuate racial segregation and harm health, and to consider removing them entirely, argues one architectural designer. 

  • What's in the Infrastructure Plan for Animals?

    Collisions between wildlife and vehicles are bad for animals and dangerous and costly to people and governments, too. The United States may take steps to catch up with technology to mitigate them. 

  • A Conflict Among the Founders Still Shapes the Infrastructure Debate

    by Susan Nagel

    "The lack of a clearly defined constitutional role for the federal government in funding infrastructure improvements left it to the men who had been competing to enrich themselves to figure out what role the national government ought to play."

  • How the Meaning of Infrastructure Has Changed Over Time

    by Peter A. Shulman

    Economists who have criticized the broad working definition of "infrastructure" in the Biden bill need to consider the history of the term, as "the means to build something greater." 

  • The Hidden Stakes of the Infrastructure Wars

    by David Alff

    Debates over what counts as infrastructure are nothing new and reflect a history of conflict over who should benefit from public works and competing ideas of the scope of government.

  • Infrastructure Spending Has Always Involved Social Engineering

    by Erika M. Bsumek and James Sidbury

    Infrastructure projects have always created winners and losers. Historically, communities of color in America have been more likely to suffer harm from them. It's therefore entirely appropriate to make justice concerns a part of a proposed infrastructure bill. 

  • Powerline Politics in the 1970s and Today

    by Tyler Priest

    Environmental activists have forged anti-pipeline alliances with rural landowners using the issue of eminent domain. History shows that this might boomerang if farmers oppose the new electric transmission lines that will be needed to implement green electrification. 

  • Infrastructure Isn’t Really About Roads. It’s About the Society We Want.

    by Erik Klinenberg

    The word "infrastructure" has always been sufficiently capacious to include all kinds of systems necessary for the operation of society. If anything, Biden's plan needs to be bigger, and incorporate the civic infrastructure of elections and public knowledge and the social infrastructure of schools, parks and libraries.