[Marxism] Re: General Motors trampled mass transit ... [in the Berkshires]

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Mon Oct 17 17:10:47 MDT 2005


I personally remember the trolley system that used to run in downtown 
Los Angeles.

I am sure that there are a number of viewers of Marxmail who are 
familiar with the Berkshires, once a farming community,* later a 
manufacturing center (General Electric, but many others as well).

The Berkshires today is predominantly devoted to the arts (Jacob's 
Pillow for dance, Tanglewood for music, several theater companies 
including the well-known Williamstown Theater Festival, and art 
galleries such the Clark and MassMOCA). There are many second-home 
owners, mostly from New York City, but also from the Boston area 
(despite the proximity of New Hampshire, Maine, and the Cape).

At one time, there was a trolley system that ran from Canaan, 
Connecticut, to Bennington, Vermont, with connections and spurs to both 
larger and smaller communities. Here is a site that describes it. 
http://www.vuhs.org/erails/berksh/

Several years ago, I read an article by a local historian describing 
the purchase and destruction of part of this system (Sheffield, MA) by 
General Motors. Obviously, destruction of one of the links would 
ultimately destroy the rest.

I also recall that Robert Caro, the author of a biography about Robert 
Moses (The Power Broker), planned a history of General Motors and wrote 
an essay on the role of General Motors in the destruction of streetcars 
that was to be part of the larger work. He abandoned this project for 
his biography of Lyndon Johnson (which I believe is ongoing).

For a different perspective, that attributes the destruction of the 
trolley system to market forces, see 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Streetcar_Conspiracy. 
However, the author of this piece would have served us better had s/he 
at least pointed out that Europe has maintained an extensive rail 
system, including modern high speed trains.

Brian Shannon
_____________

* Melville's uncle or great-uncle once owned the property now occupied 
by the Pittsfield country club and a museum devoted to Meville lies at 
the westerly edge of the old property.





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