Today's Memory

Dirk Puehl‘s Today’s Memory

Dirk Puehl‘s Today’s Memory

Dirk Puehl‘s Today’s Memory

Bertha Benz’ first long distance automobile trip

Originally shared by Dirk Puehl

“I think cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals. I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.” (Roland Barthes’ The New Citroën (1957))

When I saw Mother Google her celebration of the electric traffic light’s centenary this morning, what with the Edwardian cars flashing by, I immediately had to think of how much the horseless carriage had changed our world over the last hundred years. “Averroës, Kant, Socrates, Newton, Voltaire,” Stanisław Lem wrote back in 1971, “could any of them have believed it possible that in the twentieth century the scourge of cities, the poisoner of lungs, the mass murderer and idol of millions would be a metal receptacle on wheels, and that people would actually prefer being crushed to death inside it during frantic weekend exoduses instead of staying, safe and sound, at home?” … an not to mention the world-changing, gigantic infrastructure necessary to operate mass individual traffic. I am, I have to admit, a confessed European pedestrian and, if necessary, rail traveller and while I do admire the beauty, elegance and technical brilliance of certain cars, I never found them particularly attractive. Back in the day, however, when cars were a pioneering exercise in locomotion, things had a lot more individual appeal, at least for the likes of me, and exactly 16 years before the authorities of Cleveland, Ohio, tested the first electric traffic light at the corner of 105th and Euclid, Bertha Benz, wife and business partner of Karl Benz, the inventor of the petrol-powered automobile, became the first person to drive the horseless carriage, in this case the Benz Patent-Motorwagen Number 3 of 1886, on a long-distance drive. And invented the petrol station. But read more in a repost from my #onthisday series below: 

#automobile #engineeringhistory #europeanhistory #history #sciencehistory

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