Amy D. Finstein

Jun 2, 2021

Modern Mobility Aloft

Elevated Highways, Architecture, and Urban Change in Pre-interstate America

Temple University Press 2020

In the first half of the twentieth century, urban elevated highways were much more than utilitarian infrastructure, lifting traffic above the streets; they were statements of civic pride, asserting boldly modern visions for a city’s architecture, economy, and transportation network. Yet three of the most ambitious projects, launched in Chicago, New York, and Boston in the spirit of utopian models by architects such as Le Corbusier and Hugh Ferriss, ultimately fell short of their ideals.

Modern Mobility Aloft: Elevated Highways, Architecture, and Urban Change in Pre-interstate America (Temple UP, 2020) is the first study to focus on pre-Interstate urban elevated highways within American architectural and urban history. Amy Finstein traces the idealistic roots of these superstructures, their contrasting realities once built, their impacts on successive development patterns, and the recent challenges they have posed to contemporary urban designers.

Filled with more than 100 historic photographs and illustrations of beaux arts and art deco architecture, Modern Mobility Aloft provides a critical understanding of urban landscapes, transportation, and technological change as cities moved into the modern era.

Amy Finstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the College of the Holy Cross, where she teaches modern architectural and urban history.

Nushelle de Silva is a PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her work examines museums and exhibitions, and how the dissemination of visual culture is politically mediated by international organizations in the twentieth century.

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Nushelle de Silva

Nushelle de Silva is a PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her work examines museums and exhibitions, and how the dissemination of visual culture is politically mediated by international organizations in the twentieth century.

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