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  • Early perceptions of the passenger automobile are reflected in a popular name for it: "pleasure car." When auto interests perceived the modifier 'pleasure' as a limitation, they worked to remove it.
    Peter D. Norton, Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), p. 12
    If pedestrians were to accept some responsibility for their own safety, they would sometimes have to yield to motorists. This infringement of pedestrians' traditional street rights would have to be justified. Motordom had to show that the automobile had rights to the street too. To make this claim, motordom first had to show that the automobile, far from being a needless imposition upon more important street uses, was in fact a necessity. Passenger automobiles were no longer "pleasure cars." . . .

    . . . In 1922 a Washington auto dealer recognized that the "pleasure car" idea has "somewhat impeded the progress of the automotive industry." "The automobile," he maintained, "has become an essential rather than a luxury."

    Id., pp. 219-20.

    January 22, 2020