From the early 1960s to the 1980s, many western cities, in Europe and in North America, completed pedestrian schemes, turning part of city centers into traffic-free areas. Was this phenomenon a transnational movement against car-oriented urban planning, precisely when automobiles became pervasive in cities? Today's movement for "walkability," that emerged in the early 2000s, rarely mentions this period or regards it as an early stage. Recent researches at local or national scale tend to show that these traffic-free zones were in close link with the development of consumerism in car-oriented societies. Focusing on pedestrianization as a transnational phenomenon in the West during the 1960–1970s, this article will go further and will argue that pedestrianization was actually not part of a debate on global automobilization, but rather demonstrates how automobilization shaped all other debates. Throughout the period from the 1940s to the 1980s, pedestrianization was the name of a transnational movement in favor of defining centrality and urbanity in the motor age.


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pp. 761-783
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