Lecture 11: 20th Century Cities
Part One: Machines for Living - Modernism…
Lecture 11: 20th Century Cities
Part One: Machines for Living - Modernism and Fordism
Part Two: The City Turned Inside Out - Suburbanisation
Henry Ford and Detroit
Background of Detroit
- Ford formed the Detroit Automobile Company and produced consumer goods
- He structured an industrial organisation and a model for mass production.
- Success of Detroit built on commercial production – no reliance on the state
- Detroit in 1900 ‘a sleepy mid-western city’ and ‘common place.’
- By 1904 Michigan was lead production state and Detroit was the main centre.
- Key to Detroit’s success was the available skilled labours
- Detroit an immigrant city
- Often from Europe with no skills but could be used as part of the mass production
- Facilitated changes in industrial factors
- Mass production and success of Model T Ford
- Division of manufacturing process in order to simplify it and improve efficiency
- Detroit developed mass production of the
cheapest cars, which America was ready for.
- Standardised – made all vehicles alike
- Precise tooling and systematisation enabled
production of 100 cars a day
The assembly line
- Idea of mass production - organisation of man, machines and materials into one productive whole.
- Coordination of workers in social organisation and complete synchronisation.
- Lowered price which created demand
- The moving assembly line introduced at the Highland Park plant in 1913
- By 1914 producing 1,200 cars a day.
- Between 1904-1914 automobile rose from 77th to 6th place in American manufacturing
- Unskilled labour (only 26% skilled) less potential disruption from skilled workers who didn't like mechanisation process
- Model T unchanging and eventually obsolete.
- Didn't change or improve the model – which encouraged competition to be a success
Making of Men
- Noticed absent workers due to illnesses – 10% absentees per day
- increased wage, radical action at time
- but encouraged a loyal workforce and conditioned worker’s behaviour
- ‘Incentive wage’ of $5 a day for 8hr day - nearly double the average industrial standard
- Pay people better and it will foster a market with little intervention from state
- A self-regulating circuit (from increased wages) increasing production and expanded consumption as workers purchased goods produced themselves.
- $5 Plan conditioned an obligation that workers must live a wholesome life.
- Needed a disciplined industrial army and a non-hierarchical organisation (leadership and workers).
The Sociological Department
- 1930’s Henry Bennet and the Service Department, key department in controlling workforce
- Bennet and facilitators had become violent mob
- Violent struggle against unionisation
- Constant surveillance to keep workers in line.
- ‘Fordization of the face’- idea temperament of workers can be smoothed out, workers not allowed to talk or sit.
- 1/3 workers was an informer: city was a network of spies reporting every whisper back to Bennet
- Workers banned from drinking alcohol in their own homes and required to buy a Ford car
The Decline of Detroit
- Urban decline at city scale from 1950
- Due to processes of suburbanisation
- Lead to mass unemployment
- Abandoned skyscrapers and factories – remnants of industrial past
- Lost around 60% of its population
Le Corbusier: mostly unrealised but highly influential plans, with acute consequences for urban environments.
Ford and Detroit: mass production supported the making of cars, but depended on the making of men.
The ‘suburban tsunami’, fostered by improved transport and later technology, threated the urban public ethos of the nineteenth century.
Los Angeles is often seen as the example par excellence of the motorised metropolis.
Tecnhnoburbs as the logical conclusion of these trends?