How FordÆs Model T Changed American Society
Henry Ford is rightly regarded as an icon of American society. In 1903 when automobiles cost approximately $2,000, making them a luxury affordable only by the wealthy, he determined to build a car for the masses. When he introduced the Model T a few years later in 1908, he initiated a revolution in American Society that has never ended. Not only did FordÆs Model T sell for only $950(less than half the price of other cars(within 19 years, its price had gone all the way down to $280, thanks to FordÆs innovative manufacturing genius. He found a way to automate the manufacturing process by using an assembly line to make parts that used to be built completely by hand, thus lowering the price. In addition, he took a stand against the Selden patent for the internal combustion engine and won the right to use the engine without paying for it. Because of these moves, the Ford Model T became a car that Middle America could afford, and the Ford Motor Company sold over 15,000,000 of them.
The effect of this proliferation of automobiles on American society was incalculable. Essentially a horse-and-buggy world up until then, America suddenly became a mobile society. Personally owned automobiles enabled people to travel across the country or across town. People had access to other people, businesses, colleges, cities, and even other countries. Americans became motorists.
With the shift to motoring, it became evident that bigger and better roads were needed. Highway systems were built, providing easier travel between destinations. The facility of driving into the city and back made it convenient for even those living in outlying rural areas to work in the city, so city dwellers and country dwellers were brought into closer contact, and the advantages of both locales became available for everyone. As a result, cities grew and suburbs developed as an intermediary environment between cit...