Most of those reading this are probably already aware that electric vehicles were actually quite popular back at the beginning of the 20th century, near the dawn of the automotive industry. The extent of this popularity is perhaps a bit hard to imagine for many, though, owing to the modern ubiquity of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
I recently saw a post on reddit that might help in that regard — one featuring an image of an electric vehicle (EV) charging station map of Manhattan dating back to 1923. I’m actually a bit surprised at how comprehensive the charging network was at the time — though, granted, the island was much less densely populated at the time, so finding locations to place stations was probably a much simpler affair.
A commenter by the name of “graneflatsis” posted an interesting excerpt from a Wikipedia page on the subject that seems worth posting here:
Acceptance of electric cars was initially hampered by a lack of power infrastructure, but by 1912, many homes were wired for electricity, enabling a surge in the popularity of the cars. At the turn of the century, 40 percent of American automobiles were powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline. 33,842 electric cars were registered in the United States, and America became the country where electric cars had gained the most acceptance. Most early electric vehicles were massive, ornate carriages designed for the upper-class customers that made them popular. They featured luxurious interiors and were replete with expensive materials. Sales of electric cars peaked in the early 1910s.
I wonder how long until EVs hit their second peak? I guess that probably depends to a large degree on how rapidly we start experiencing major effects from anthropogenic climate change (the destruction of deep water seaports, extreme water scarcity in some regions, mass migration on a scale not seen in recent times, falling agricultural yields, etc).
(Thanks to “Pluginsights” for posting the map on reddit.)
2 thoughts on “Map Showing Location Of EV Charging Stations In Manhattan… In 1923”
If EV are to succeed, it must be decoupled from climate change message. Most people won’t do much to curb climate change. You can see this from most people driving solo stuck in traffic even as they associate curbing climate change with EV. And most will tell you that they think climate change is a problem, but their actions say otherwise.
Far worse to tie EV to climate change is that effects won’t be noticed. Those disasters are coming in span of decades. People will simply ignore them as just another weather event or politics and simply do as they’ve always done: stuck in traffic alone in gas burner that puts out not only CO2, but NOx, HC, and other really bad stuff.
Far better for EV is making great cars. Imagine all of today’s EV are powered by oil. Would you buy them at that (post subsidy) price? If the answer is no to all of them, EV will fail. But in case of Tesla, they are great cars even if powered by oil. That’s why Tesla is working. Climate change doesn’t matter.
The only EV other than Tesla that’d still be great at its price ($16K) even if it’s powered by oil is SparkEV. Compared to all other gas cars of similar price, it’s far better. That can’t be said about other EV like Leaf ($24K), or even Bolt ($30K). EV have to strive to be more like SparkEV (and Tesla) and disassociate from climate change as excuse for poor performance and high price if it’s to succeed.
I wonder if any of the early 20th century sites are host to charging stations again now?