East vs. West

These brief articles capture an observation that is a central reality of American politics and society today - the red states versus the blue states. The first has a more cultural bent, the second speaks to the geographic realities of the regions of the country. Keep in mind that when these articles were originally published in 1906 and 1909 respectively the term "west" meant something different than it does today. States in the near midwest such as Ohio, Indiana Illinois and Michigan were considered "western."
Attachment EastvWestStar080606 contains an article published on August 6, 1906 in the Indianapolis Star first addresses the attitude of the European powers toward America. America still had a preoccupation with European culture and society and it could be argued that United States essentially held a collective inferriority complex to the countries of the continent across the Atlantic. Europeans had a vast and rich reservoir of art, science and culture as well as the host of institutions that supported it. Europe was the measuring stick for American "Society," the capital of which was New England and more specifically New York City.
The article segues to observations about regional attitudes within the United States, North vs. South, East vs. West. Despite the still relatively fresh memories of the Civil War, the East vs. West cultural divide became the most relevant force in motorsport. The Northeastern elite, best personified by William K. Vanderbilt Jr., had spent a good portion of their lives and education in Europe. In the case of Willie K he had raced in Europe with some success, even finishing third in the Belgian Ardennes race of 1902 - a top road race that attracted Europe's most skilled drivers and finest cars. Western leaders like Carl Fisher had little interest in Society but did respect the Europeans and their automotive industry as a threat to America's car makers. Fisher's focus was creating creating good roads and a testing facility that would enable manufacturers to thoroughly unwind their engines at absolute top speed.
Racers of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and futher West were denigrated by a lot of the Eastern elite as outliers. This was reflected in a prevailing view that the oval track racing that was popularized in "West" was useless and excessively dangerous. Bottom line, I like this article because it calls out a cultural reality that had a big impact on the way motorsports evolved in this country - and still has relevance today.
By 1909 the rapidly expanding market for automobiles was expanding across the country. The article in attachment EastvsWest082209 discusses the geographic differences between the West and the East and their implications for consumer automobile purchases.
The author posits that the vast distances between developed areas and the lack of geographic diversity such as seashore and mountains meant more people turned to automobiles for both utility and recreation. The recreation is a little more difficlt to understand because the Great Lakes Region and other lakes throughout the area certainly offered alternatives.
The article acknowledges that the quality of western roads presented a greater challenge than in the East and this (along with the concentration of wealth) at least partially explains why the developed areas in New England led the nation in automobile purchases in the earliest days.
Perhaps most interesting are some statistics offered in terms of market penetration. No reference sources are ctied but the data is still worth noting. Reportedly some "villages" of a population of 500 citizens or less had one car to every 25 people. More confusing is the comment, "not a few towns and cities have one car to every 75 or 100 population."

EastvWestStar080606.pdf2.16 MB
EastvsWest082209.pdf624.74 KB