The City and Technology

Date of Original Version



Book Chapter

Abstract or Description

Historically, cities are a product of the interaction of technology and society, as a complex of tools and skills produced an economic surplus that permitted humans to live in non-agricultural settlements. Today, technology provides what might be called the “sinews” of the city: road, bridge and transit networks; water and sewer lines and waste disposal facilities; and power and communications systems. Other technologies, such as the streetcar, the subway, the motor truck and the automobile have provided mobility (and sometimes immobility) within the city and its region. Additional technologies have shaped the character of the built environment and the character of the cityscape. These technological systems made it possible for large numbers of residents to live in cities and also to increasingly separate work and residence. Technology facilitated city growth and diversification; over the course of two centuries it has caused profound changes in the patterns of urbanization in the United States and in the organization of urban society (Tarr and Dupuy 1988).




Published In

A Companion to American Technology, Carroll Pursell (ed.), 97-112.