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Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz with William Rosen

October 5, 2015


The 1973 collapse of part of New York’s West Side Highway forced drivers to find alternatives to reach their destination. Not having access to the highway should have caused traffic mayhem, but instead car use decreased revealing that the highway’s existence had actually induced unnecessary car travel. Engineer Samuel I. Schwartz was inspired by this revelation. He began to reimagine cities, including his beloved New York, without the chaos of traffic.

An urban transformation is underway, and smart streets are at the heart of it. They will boost property prices and personal fitness, roll back years of congestion and smog, and offer a transformative experience of American urban life. Schwartz’s Street Smart is a dazzling and affectionate history of the struggle for control of American cities, and an inspiring off-road map to a more vibrant, active, and vigorous urban future.

Samuel I. Schwartz (also known as: Gridlock Sam) is one of the leading transportation engineers in the United States. He acted as New York City traffic commissioner, and chief engineer for the New York City Department of Transportation. Schwartz currently runs Schwartz Engineering, and writes columns for the New York Daily News.

William Rosen work has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, The American Interest, Lapham’s Quarterly, The New Atlantic, The Washington Post Book World, Bloomberg, and Smithsonian’s Echoes. He is the author of Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire (Viking, 2007), The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention (Random House, 2010) and The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century (Viking, 2014).

Praise for Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Car:

Street Smart doesn’t read as if you were stuck on the Cross-Bronx Expressway (‘the most congested corridor in the entire country,’ [Schwartz] writes). Rather, it’s mostly accessible, discerning and even revealing.” New York Times

“A snappy read…[Schwartz’s] account of President Eisenhower’s creation of the interstate highway system is riveting, as is his informed discussion of the rise and fall of streetcars.” —Wall Street Journal

“A readable and provocative book making the convincing claim that the best city is one in which people can move around easily.” —Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Samuel I. Schwartz: 

“King of the Roads and Traffic Boss.” —New York Post

“The Man with the Plan.” —New Yorker 

“Transportation Guru.” —Huffington Post

“Traffic Czar.” —Crain’s New York

“The éminence grise of traffic circles.” —New York Times

“One of the country’s leading transportation engineers.” —Gothamist

Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local indie bookstore.

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