Primer Manual de Calles Compartidas en español

La organización Dérive Lab presenta el un manual de Calles Compartidas, el que se puede descargar gratuitamente y que pretende ser un primer acercamiento al tema, en español.

Origen: Primer manual de Calles Compartidas en español (y descargable gratis) | Plataforma Urbana

El concepto de Espacio Compartido o Shared Space empieza a tomar cada vez más fuerza en nuestra ciudades. Un concepto que supone un cambio de paradigma en como vivimos y pensamos las calles, ese espacio público tan fundamental para todos quienes vivimos en ciudades.

“Debemos olvidarnos de la segregación por velocidades, las señales de tránsito y las separaciones, para empezar a pensar en espacios y calles verdaderamente compartidas, en las que sea posible negociar el espacio de una manera personal”,dicen en la organización Dérive Lab para presentar su primera versión de un Manual de calles Compartidas en español.

” Es un primer acercamiento al concepto de Calles Compartidas en español, con el propósito de abrir el debate sobre su implementación y oportunidades en ciudades latinoamericanas. Se trata de una primera versión que irá enriqueciéndose con ejemplos, casos de estudio, y sobre todo opiniones de diversos actores que permitan complementar su visión sobre el tema”.

Puedes descargar el manual de forma gratuita en su página web.

Publicado en Automóvil, Bicicleta, Calles, Espacio Publico, Movilidad, Peaton, Politicas Publicas, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Las Calles y el Entorno Edificado – videos de CreateStreets

Create Streets is a non-partisan social enterprise and independent research institute focusing on the built environment

Origen: videos – create streets

Publicado en Calles, Espacio Publico, Planeacion Urbana, Politicas Publicas, Urbanismo | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Muerte en las Calles: Coches y la mitologia de la seguridad vial

Origen: Death on the Streets : Cars and the mythology of road safety


Este libro, una de las principales fuentes de evidencia para el enfoque de reducción del peligro vial, la edicion impresa está agotada.

Esto es lo que sus lectores han dicho sobre el libro:

Another book which is so interesting that it makes my head hurt is by Robert Davis… I’ve been reading it for ages. A couple of pages is enough for me to put it down and reflect. It’s chock full of facts and references, as well as thought-provoking observations about the role of the car in our societies.” Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize, 2010

This may be the best single book there is on “road safety” (that is, road danger): cars, bikes, pedestrians, politicians, and planners. Robert Davis documents the double vision of the transportation establishment in the UK with substantial references and no punches pulled. Essential reading…” De Clarke

This book is a compelling assemblage of the evidence for the danger to civilization posed by the continuing unrestricted use of the private car. Written lucidly ‘from the heart’ the documentation is wide-ranging and meticulous.. A book to be warmly recommended” H.S. Eisner, Safety Science 17 [(1994) 227 – 230]

If I had sufficient funds, I would give everyone who reads a copy of Death on the Streets. Please do read it and then take up the cudgels with your MP, your District Councillor and your Chief Constable and do not stop until matters are sufficiently improved to enable us all to share our roads in safety” Peter Cannon, British Horse (British Horse Society), [Autumn 1993]

Highly recommend as reading for those associated with roads and road safety”. Karl Briggs, New Civil Engineer[12/19 August 1993]

A totally brilliant book, which will go down in history as a classic….fully referenced in one invaluable work…. chockful of useful quotes……The issues it raises should dominate our thoughts”. Don Mathew, London Cyclist [April/May 1993]

Personally, I shan’t be reading his book.” David Benson, Motoring Editor, Daily Express (6/11/92) (Possibly my favourite review, RD.)

Even if you regard yourself as environmentally aware and safety conscious this book will raise your consciousness still farther….the statistical information is presented in a lively, readable way….His arguments, backed by statistics are very convincing….an excellent antidote to most of the rubbish written on road safety..” CILT Journal (Centre for Independent Transport Research in London) [1,1, April 1993]

This is a radical critique of road safety policy and practice written with a strong vein of polemic and bound to irritate many readers. Yet I feel it should be read, not just to become familiar with a position which is critical of our own, and relate work, but because there are some good arguments which should be listened to.” Inroads (Journal of the Institute of Road Safety Officers)[15,1, July 1993]

This enlightened and detailed book…spares no-one. This book….should be made compulsory reading before one can join the Institute of Road Safety Officers, the judiciary, become a motoring correspondent or even drive a car. If it fails at all it does so only because it is too comprehensive to be read by sceptical road safety professionals and attitude shapers. Highly recommended.” Colin Graham, Cycletouring and Campaigning, April/May 1993.

“ powerful as Mick Hamer’s “Wheels Within Wheels”….the way he presents his argumentation and evidence will make many readers change their minds about many things we take for granted. As such, this book should be essential reading for anyone interested or involved in transport safety and environmental issues”. Chris Bowers, Going Green (Environmental Transport Association) [Spring 1993]

“…makes sobering reading for those seriously concerned about road safety….A challenging read..” ‘The Hawk’, Commercial Motor 6 – 12 May 1993.

This is a book which does for road safety what Galileo did for astronomy. For pedestrians concerned about the literally deadly threat they face from motor vehicles, it is no exaggeration to say this is probably the most important book ever published on the subject….a devastating book…. Davis seems to have read every book and paper ever published on transport and road safety.. he writes in a lucid but scholarly manner, with all the facts at his fingertips….Death on the Streets is, quite simply brilliant. it amounts to three-hundred pages of stunning argument and authoritative analysis that takes the road safety industry and our car-dominated transport status quo apart. If readers of WALK only ever buy one book on transport, this should be it“. Ronald Binns, WALK (Pedestrians Association), Summer 1993.

“..I would recommend this book to any road safety practitioner, especially to those who believe in engineering as the great cure-all. It is a book which should also be made available to every teacher who covers road safety in his or her classroom.” Richard Doherty, Care on the Road (RoSPA) August 1993.

This is an important book…..I remain both scientifically impressed by the sheer weight of evidence and emotionally swayed by the contrast between adjacent photographs showing children playing in the streets 30 years ago and the barricaded truck routes of today.” Richard Mayou, The Lancet Vol 342, July 24 1993, p.226.

‘Death on the Streets; Cars and the mythology of road safety’, by Robert Davis, was published by Leading Edge Press. ISBN 0-948135-46-8. (1993) at £11.99. As it is now out of print and there are only a few rare copies left, I am charging £25 (inc. p&p in the UK ) for private copies (signed if wished). If you wish to take up this offer, e-mail me at with your contact details.

Para bajar el libro completo has click en la imagen del titulo abajo.

Nota este archivo es de aproximadamente 40 Mb, asi que necesitaras una conexon de banda ancha o mas veloz (o horas de paciencia) 


Publicado en Automóvil, Calles, Politicas Publicas, Trafico | Etiquetado , , | Comentarios desactivados en Muerte en las Calles: Coches y la mitologia de la seguridad vial

Public Transportation Systems – Course Notes



Public Transportation Systems: Basic Principles of System Design, Operations Planning and Real-Time Control

Carlos F. Daganzo

U.C. Berkeley Graduate Course Notes UCB-ITS-CN-2010-1

“CE259-Public Transportation Systems”


This document is based on a set of lecture notes prepared in 2007-2010 for the U.C. Berkeley graduate course “CE259-Public Transportation Systems”–a course targeted to first year graduate students with diverse academic backgrounds. The document is different from other books on public transportation systems because it is informal, has a narrower focus and looks at things in a different way. Its focus is the planning, management and operation of public transportation systems. Important topics such as financing, governance strategies and urban transportation policy are not covered because they are not specific to transit systems, and because other books and courses already treat them in depth. The document is also different because it deemphasizes facts in favor of ideas. Facts that constantly change and can be found elsewhere, such as transit usage statistics and transit system characteristics, are not covered. The document’s way of looking at things, and its structure, is similar to the author’s previous book “Logistics systems analysis” (Springer, 4th edition, 2005) from which many basic ideas are borrowed. (Transit systems, after all, are logistics systems for the movement of people.) Both documents espouse a two-step planning approach that uses idealized models to explore the largest possible solution space of potential plans. The logical organization is also similar: in both documents systems are examined in order of increased complexity so that generic insights evident in simple systems can be put to use as knowledge “building blocks” for the study of more complex systems. The document is organized in 8 modules: 5 on planning (general; shuttle systems; corridors; twodimensional systems; and unconventional transit); 2 on management (vehicles; and employees); and 1 on operations (how to keep buses on schedule). The planning modules examine those aspects of the system that are usually visible to the public, such as routing and scheduling. The management and operations modules analyze the more mundane aspects required for the system to work as designed. Two more modules are in the works: management of special events (e.g., evacuations; Olympics); and operations in traffic. Although the document includes new ideas, which could be of use to academics and professionals, its main aim is as a teaching aid. Thus, a companion document including 7 homework exercises and 3 mini-laboratory projects directly related to the lectures is also made available. It can be obtained by visiting the Institute of Transportation Studies web site and looking for a publication entitled: “Public Transportation Systems: Mini-Projects and Homework Exercises”. Versions of these exercises and mini-projects were used in the 2009 and 2010 installments of CE259: a 14-week course with two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hr discussion session per week. Sample solutions to the mini-projects and exercises can be obtained by university professors by writing to the ITS publications office and requesting a third document entitled: “Public Transportation Systems: Solution Sets”. The various modules were originally compiled by PhD students Eric Gonzales, Josh Pilachowski and Vikash Gayah, directly from the lectures. Subsequently, my colleague Prof. Mike Cassidy used them in an installment of CE259 and offered many comments. This published version has been edited and reflects the input of all these individuals. Their help is gratefully acknowledged. The errors, of course, are mine. The financial support of the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations is also gratefully acknowledged.

Carlos F. Daganzo September, 2010 Berkeley, California

Publicado en Trafico, TransportePublico | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

El Triunfo de la Ciudad – YouTube

a través de «Triumph of the City» – YouTube

El Triunfo de la Ciudad: como la mas grandioso invento del ser humano nos hace mas ricos, mas listos, verdes, saludables y felices
Conferenciante: Profesor Edward Glaeser – autor del libro
Conductor: Profesor Henry Overman
Evento grabado el  14 Marzo de 2011 en Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Construir y mantener las ciudades es dificil y la densidad tienen sus costos, pero en esta presentacion el Profesor Edward Glaeser argumentará que vale la pena correr con estos costos, porque ya sea en las ornamentadas arcadas de Londres o en las fracturadas favelas de Rio, o sea en los rascacielos de Hong Kong o los polvorientos lugares de trabajo en Dharavi, nuestra cultura, nuestra prosperidad y nuestra libertad son finalmente regalos de gente viviendo, trabajando y pensando juntos — el mayor triunfo de la ciudad

Publicado en Ciudad, Cultura, Densidad y Productividad, Economia, Habitabilidad, Integracion social, Urbanismo, Uso de Suelo | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Infrastructura: Calles, Caminos y Carreteras

Origen: Infraestructura: Calles, Caminos, y Carreteras – Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History

Al servir a los viajeros y el comercio, los caminos y las calles unen a la gente y fomentan el crecimiento económico. Pero a medida que se desarrollan, los caminos y calles también desorganizan los viejos patrones, alteran los equilibrios de poder, y aislan a algunos mientras sirven a otros. Los desacuerdos consecuentes dejan registros históricos que documentan las luchas sociales que de otra manera podrían ser pasadas por alto. Para los viajes de larga distancia en EUA antes de mediados del siglo 20, las carreteras eran generalmente alternativas pobres, se recurrió a ellas cuando los medios superiores de viaje, tales como los barcos de río y de cabotaje, barcazas de canal, o ferrocarriles no estaban disponibles. La mayoría de los caminos estaban sin pavimentar, sin marcar, y vulnerables a los efectos del clima. Antes de los ferrocarriles, para viajeros dispuestos a pagar el peaje, las raras carreteras de peaje y carreteras de tablones podrían ser mucho mejores.Incluso en las ciudades, las calles sin pavimentar eran comunes hasta finales del siglo XIX, y persistieron hasta el siglo XX. A finales del siglo XIX, el rápido crecimiento urbano, la entrega rural gratuita de correos y, finalmente, la proliferación de ferrocarriles eléctricos y el ciclismo contribuyeron a la creciente presión por mejores carreteras y calles. Después de 1910, la propagación del automóvil aceleró la tendencia, pero sólo con gran controversia, especialmente en las ciudades. En parte en respuesta a la controversia, los defensores del automóvil se organizaron para promover las carreteras estatales y de condado para automotores financiadas sustancialmente por los impuestos a la gasolina; Tales carreteras estaban destinadas principalmente a vehículos de motor. En la década de 1950, masivos fondos federales aceleraron la tendencia; para entonces, los vehículos de motor eran el modo primario del transporte para distancias largas y cortas. Las consecuencias han sido controvertidas, y las alternativas han estado atrayendo un interés creciente.

Publicado en Automóvil, Calles, Transporte | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Velocidad, Distancia de Frenado, Velocidad Residual y Aforo

Distancia de Frenado2

Distancia de Frenado3

Distancia de Frenado4

Distancia de Frenado

Publicado en Automóvil, Peaton, Seguridad, Trafico | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Manual para observar al humano en la ciudad

vía Manual para observar al humano en la ciudad | de arquitectura, creo..

Cuando Jan Gehl observa a los humanos se parece a un naturalista perdido en la sabana africana. El urbanista danés ha dedicado su vida profesional a estudiar al Homo Sapien en el hábitat urbano. Una disciplina tan poco analizada que, según dice,  “sabemos más sobre la creación de entornos saludables para los osos panda que para el ser humano”

¿Por qué importa estudiar el comportamiento del humano en la ciudad? El urbanista Jan Gehl responde a esta pregunta en su nuevo libro Studying Public Life.

En su nuevo libro, How to Study Public Life, escrito junto a Birgitte Svarre, Gehl comparte algunos de los métodos que utiliza para estudiar y examinar a los seres humanos en entornos urbanos.

El acechador del espacio público “debe ser lo más neutral posible, actuar como el que mira desde el banquillo, un ente invisible que tiene que mantener una perspectiva global. Cualquiera que decida examinar a las personas a desenvolverse por una ciudad rápidamente se dará cuenta de que hay que ser metódico para conseguir información útil en la compleja y confusa vida del espacio público”.

Hacerlo está al alcance de cualquiera pero es posible entrenar el ojo “en el arte de la observación”, dice Gehl en el libro.

El papel y el lápiz son las herramientas más importantes para iniciarse en esta actividad. Sirven para anotar observaciones puntuales o medir el número de peatones en una determinada zona. “Todo se puede contar. El número de personas que pasan por un sitio, sus géneros, si sonríen o no, si caminan solos o en grupo, cuántos son activos, cuántas personas hablan por el móvil. Pronto te das cuenta de que la vida de una ciudad se mueve en ritmos de forma similar a un pulmón”.


La interacción social trazada según la cantidad de tráfico de cada una. Fuente: ¿El tráfico mata la vida en las calles?

Para hacer un análisis adecuado de la calle, el arquitecto de 77 años considera los siguientes instrumentos como imprescindibles.

Mapear: ofrece una manera de representar los datos recogidos en una zona determinada.

Trazar: los movimientos de las personas pueden ser trazados en la zona que se está estudiando. Proporciona información básica sobre patrones y movimientos en un espacio determinado.

Trackear: Para observar el movimiento de ciudadanos en zonas amplias se puede optar por seguir a un sujeto de forma discreta sin que se dé cuenta o acordar de antemano con alguien para hacerlo. Es posible que lleven un GPS encima para facilitar la recopilación de los datos. Otra opción es observar desde una ventana en alto.

Buscar rastros: La actividad humana normalmente deja restos como basura en la calle, suciedad, marcas sobre el césped que contienen información sobre la vida en la ciudad. “Unas huellas en la nieve pueden proporcionar pistas sobre las rutas que toma la gente en una plaza con césped. Si hay mesas o sillas en la calle puede significar que los residentes se sienten los suficientemente cómodos para trasladar su salón a la calle”.

Fotografiar: Una parte esencial del estudio de la vida en el espacio público consiste en documentar las situaciones donde la vida urbana interactúa. “Es una forma de humanizar los datos. Se pone el énfasis en las interacciones y las situaciones que se producen en la calle”. Aquí Gehl recomienda el uso de vídeos Time-Lapse.

Mantener un diario: Sirve para registrar detalles y matices sobre la interacción entre la vida en la calle y el espacio público. Se usa para anotar observaciones en tiempo real y las distintas actividades que realizan.


Paseos piloto: “Realizar un paseo mientras se observa la vida que se desarrolla en ella puede ser algo rutinario, pero el objetivo es que el observador sea capaz de notar problemas y detalles que se puedan mejorar”, dice Gehl. En algunos paseos piloto realizados en Sydney, el arquitecto encontró que en las rutas peor diseñadas, el peatón pasaba 52% de su tiempo de viaje esperando en semáforos para llegar de un lugar a otro.

“La tecnología tiene un papel muy importante y lo tendrá más en el futuro. Pero la observación personal y humana sigue siendo importantísima”, defiende el danés.


“¿Cómo vas a saber dónde situar los distintos servicios en una plaza sin observar como el humano actúa en ella?”, señala Gehl. La calle está llena de pistas para crear ciudades más amables.

Un parque con una presencia alta de mujeres suele indicar que es un lugar seguro. “Si se encuentra una bajada reiterada de su presencia significa que la sensación de seguridad está bajando”. Gehl se basa en investigaciones como la que realizó en Bryant Park (Nueva York), donde encontró que el equilibrio óptimo era un 52% mujeres versus 48% hombres entre la 1 y las 6 de la tarde.

Esto no es todo. “La velocidad en la que camina un individuo cuando pasa por un lugar determinado y el tiempo que se para en sus rincones puede proveer de información sobre la calidad de ese espacio”.

En un estudio realizado por Gehl en la calle Stroget en Copenhague, en enero de 1968, el arquitecto encontró que las personas cubrían de media 100 metros en 62 segundos con una temperatura de -8 grados. Las personas que más rápido cubrían el trayecto lo lograban en 48 segundos, equivalente a una velocidad de 6 kilómetros por hora.

Cuando realizó este mismo estudio en 1968 a finales de julio y con 20 grados de temperatura, encontró que las personas tardaban una media de 85 segundos para cubrir esos mismos 100 metros a pie. “Con un flujo casi igual en ambos días la sensación de densidad era mucho más alta en el día caluroso”.

“Las personas caminan más rápido durante la mañana y la tarde. Se lo toman con más calma a mediodía. Como era de esperar se mueven más rápido entre semana que los fines de semana”.

Estudiar estos factores es importante para determinar la distancia que un ciudadano está dispuesto a caminar para usar el transporte público, por ejemplo. “No es necesario hacer una renovación muy cara para invitar a la gente a quedarse más tiempo. Aun así, si deciden hacerlo, una invitación o un estímulo puede influir en la percepción de si es un lugar dinámico donde merece quedarse”.


Esto que parece tan obvio es algo que muchos planificadores urbanos dejaron de hacer a partir de los años 60. Las maquetas y los planes maestros empezaron a dictar las decisiones en los ayuntamientos. El contacto con la calle y sus palpitaciones se marginó y se olvidaron de lo más importante, el factor humano a pie de calle.

Al mismo tiempo, por primera vez el ciudadano occidental empezaba a gozar de más tiempo libre. La semana de trabajo se acortó y se incrementaron los días de vacaciones. Hasta entonces, gran parte del tiempo estaba dedicado al uso del espacio público para fines productivos como ir a trabajar o desarrollar una actividad comercial con excepción de los fines de semana. Ahora la calle empezaba a ser un lugar para caminar sin rumbo. Un lugar para pasear, sentarse en un banco y leer el periódico o simplemente observar a las personas que pasaban por allí.

Sin embargo, muchos ciudadanos se encontraron con la construcción de nuevos barrios que ignoraban completamente la posibilidad de crear ciudades adecuadas para este cambio de hábitos.

“La planificación urbana moderna no prestaba atención a la interconexión, el espacio entre edificios. Se impuso el principio Radburn, que dictaba que se tenían que crear espacios segregados para el peatón y los coches. Era preferible que los vehículos motorizados circulasen por zonas donde no había ni siquiera aceras. Los peatones, en cambio, tendrían espacios delimitados, centros ajardinados para caminar separados. El problema con esta teoría, que tenía bastante sentido en abstracto, es que en la práctica no prestaba atención a las interconexiones, al espacio entre los edificios”.

 La separación acabó creando una segregación entre actividades. Lugares de trabajo que se quedan desiertos por la noche, barrios dormitorios y zonas muy específicas para hacer la compra. Los barrios acabaron desconectados entre sí.

Esta ideología en su encarnación más extrema proponía construir un autopista por el centro de Greenwich Village y (parte de Central Park), un barrio degradado y artístico que a pesar de todo tenía una vida social única en la ciudad. El activismo de Jane Jacobs, una periodista residente en la zona reconvertida en urbanista, logró paralizar este despropósito impulsado por el temible Robert Moses.

“Para Jacobs, un buen espacio era una conjunción de factores sociales, económicos, físicos y de diseño. Ella objetaba a las soluciones que se aplicaban por igual en todas partes. Cada lugar tenía sus particularidades y había que salir al a calle para estudiarlas”.

Las experiencias de Jacobs inspiraron a Gehl para empezar a mirar a las ciudades desde otra perspectiva en los años 60. Pero no fue lo único que cambió su manera de ver la arquitectura. Su mujer Ingrid Gehl, era psicóloga y le llamó la atención lo poco que su marido tenía en cuenta las personas cuando empezó su carrera en esta disciplina.

Gehl ha conseguido junto a otros arquitectos empezar a recuperar la ciudad para los peatones. Fue el artífice de la peatonalización en Times Square, es una de las piezas claves en el desarrollo ciclista de Copenhague y ha trabajado en proyectos en Melbourne, Londres, Chongqing, México DF y Sao Paulo.

Implantación de espacios peatonales en Broadway (Gehl Architects) Fuente: Plataforma Urbana

“Casi todas las ciudades tienen departamentos de tráfico con datos precisos sobre cuántos coches circulan por las grande arterias mientras que es casi inaudito encontrar departamentos que midan el movimiento de los peatones y el desarrollo de la vida en la vía pública”.

Algo tan básico como contar el flujo peatonal en determinadas zonas puede ayudar a tomar mejores decisiones en la ordenación de ciudades. Estos datos tienen que ser recopilados a lo largo de mucho tiempo para poder compararlos. “Un dato por sí solo no vale para nada”, reclaman Svarre y Gehl en su libro.

Tampoco hay que dejarse llevar solo por números crudos, argumenta el danés. “Un conocimiento básico permite acomodar las necesidades de mujeres, niños, ancianos y discapacitados, grupos que frecuentemente no son tenidos en cuenta”.

Como modelo está Copenhague, que cada 10 años realiza una auditoría de la vida en el espacio público. Cuando pensamos en esta ciudad danesa, una de las primeras cosas que suelen venir a la cabeza es sus políticas pioneras a favor de la bici y los peatones pero no siempre fue así.

“Cuando se peatonalizó la calle Stroget por primera vez en 1962 hubo una oposición importante que dijo que eso no funcionaría nunca. Decían que esto no encajaba con el estilo de vida escandinavo y era más propio de Italia”, observó Gehl en una entrevista con Yorokobu en 2010. Con consenso político y políticas sensatas se ha conseguido construir una de las ciudades más sostenibles del mundo.

Life Between Buildings / Trailer from Gehl Architects on Vimeo.

¿Qué significa una ciudad vivible?

Detrás de la disciplina que imparte Gehl está una ideología clara que propone recuperar el espacio público para el ciudadano. Un objetivo que el danés considera resumido a la perfección en esta frase de Ray LaHood. “Una ciudad vivible significa poder llevar a tus hijos al colegio, ir a trabajar, visitar el médico, hacer la compra, salir a cenar y ver una película y jugar con tus niños en el parque sin tener que meterte en un coche”.

Es una guerra sin belicismo en la que se recuperan las ciudades para las personas y se relega el coche a un segundo plano. Una batalla que Gehl sigue luchando en todo el mundo.


1) Protección contra tráfico y accidentes
2) Protección contra crimen y violencia (Vida en la calle, estructura social, identidad, iluminación durante la noche)
3) Protección contra estímulos desagradables (ruido, humo, malos olores, suciedad)
4) La opción de caminar (espacios adecuados para hacerlo, cambios de nivel bien diseñados)
5) La posibilidad de estar de pie (zonas de descanso, apoyos físicos para hacerlo)
6) Infraestructura para sentarse (bancos para descansar)
7) La posibilidad de observar (líneas de visión sin obstáculos, buena iluminación durante la noche)
8) La posibilidad de escuchar y hablar (ruido moderado, distancia entre los bancos)
9) Escenarios para jugar y relajarse (jugar, bailar, música, teatro, discursos improvisados, distintas edades y tipos de personas)
10) Servicios a pequeña escala (señales, mapas, papeleras, buzones)
11) Diseño para disfrutar de elementos climáticos (sol, calor, frío, ventilación, estética)
12) Diseño para generar experiencias positivas (cualidades estéticas, plantas, flores, animales)

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Bicicleta, Calles, Caminabilidad, Caminabilidad, Comunicacion, Economia, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Habitabilidad, Movilidad, Peaton, Seguridad, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Lo Nuevo y las Mejores Practicas en Temas Urbanisticos

Ligas a paginas y blogs relacionados con temas de ciudad – Fuentes diversas de informacion sobre Arquitectura, Espacio Publico, Urbanismo, Movilidad, Lugares Publicos, Sostenibilidad y Ecologia Urbana, etcetera. Que muestran las ‘Mejores Practicas de Urbanismo Mundiales en Ciudades Para la Gente’
Publicado en Bicicleta, Calles, Densidad y Productividad, Desarrollo Urbano, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Estacionamiento, Peaton, Trafico, TransportePublico, Urbanismo | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

PlaceMaking: Cómo crea lugares de encuentro y hace comunidad

Acerca del Departamento de Estudios Urbanos y Planificación (DUSP) en MIT

Desde su fundación hace 80 años, el Departamento de Estudios Urbanos y Planificación (DUSP) en el MIT ha sido considerada una de las principales escuelas de planificación en el mundo. Tenemos en la facultad de planificación urbana el claustro de profesores mas grande en los Estados Unidos y gozamos la ventaja de operar en el contexto de la cultura de inovacion y creación de conocimiento interdisciplinario del MIT. Nuestra misión es educar a los estudiantes mientras avanzamos en la teoría y la práctica en las áreas de la erudición que servirán mejor a la nación y al mundo en el siglo XXI

DUSP está comprometida con la generación y difusión del conocimiento, y para trabajar con las comunidades, los gobiernos y la industria para llevar este conocimiento a los desafíos más apremiantes del mundo. Ofrecemos a nuestros alumnos una educación que combina estudio académico riguroso y la emoción del descubrimiento, con la participación activa en la práctica de placemaking.

Nuestro objetivo es aplicar el análisis y diseño de avanzada para entender y resolver los problemas urbanos y ambientales apremiantes. Para este fin, el departamento fomenta una cultura de aprendizaje en la práctica, mientras que también apoya el desarrollo de las teorías influyentes en las áreas de planificación urbana y el diseño, el desarrollo económico, y la formulación de políticas ambientales. Al complementar seminarios más tradicionales con estudios, talleres y práctica, nuestros profesores, los estudiantes y los investigadores son capaces de convertir las ideas pioneras en soluciones prácticas y duraderas.

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Areas Verdes y Naturales, Calles, Espacio Publico, Integracion social, Politicas Publicas, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Los 10 mejores Blogs de Urbanismo

This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)

This Big City has been on Tumblr for almost three years now, and as we approach our 1,000th post (tumble?) we thought we’d highlight some of our favourite urbanism Tumblogs. There’s a great community of urbanism bloggers on Tumblr, and choosing our ten favourites was no easy task, especially after we asked our followers to nominate themselves for an extra look-in. But we did it. Here’s ten of our favourite urbanism Tumblogs (in no particular order, I should add):


Urbalize presents a portfolio of images and videos exploring imaginative use of urban space. Whilst some content is a vision of what are cities could be, a lot looks at what cities have already achieved. A pretty positive vision overall, despite this being their opening quote: ‘It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.’


SPATIALforces is a lot of fun. I hope that’s the point. A good chunk of their recent posts have been text-heavy images, providing ‘food for thought’, or something to have a chuckle over. See above. Comments like ‘if you want to change society, don’t build anything’ won’t keep the developers happy, but they probably aren’t on Tumblr anyway. Well worth checking out.

Secret Republic

This Big City and Secret Republic have collaborated on projects in the past, largely because Secret Republic is AWESOME. Kasey Klimes runs the show and his passion for improving urban ecosystems is evident in every post. Our two-wheeled friend, the bicycle, gets a lot of coverage, but there’s far more going on, with human scale cities, green roofs, and sustainable economics getting exposure.


I don’t think there’s a better blog on Tumblr for urban photography. Urbnist posts beautiful photographs of city scenes at an impressive frequency, and would be a fantastic addition to anyone’s Tumblr Dashboard.

Captain Plan it

Any blog that describes itself as ‘Ctrl+v’ing ideas, innovations, knowledge and pretty pictures from cities around the world’ gets a thumbs-up from me. But Captain Plan it is a worthwhile read because it’s doing a great job with the Ctrl and V buttons. Anything remotely urban gets a reblog, resulting in a varied and exciting selection of urban ideas.

City Breaths

Mark Minkjan looks at ‘respirations of the urban environment’ with City Breaths, exploring the everyday of our cities. City Breaths shares videos, images and links, and Mark is unafraid to challenge urban flaws despite seeming pretty captivated by them.

Entrapped Spaces

A Tumblog where ‘all comments are made purely of kick-ass’. Entrapped Spaces rethinks the city, finding fun in the everyday and sharing some great quotes. Of the kick-ass variety, of course.

The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space

Our only region-specific entry on the list, MoRUS aims to ‘preserve, research, archive, and exhibit the historical squats and gardens of Manhattan’s Lower East side’, and the visual end result is pretty captivating stuff you can appreciate whatever part of the world you’re in.

Human Scale Cities

No prizes for guessing the topic of this Tumblog. Manu Fernández presents a ‘sketchbook of ideas’ exploring scale and the human side of cities, leaning heavily towards literature on the topic. If you’re after some reading material beyond blogs, this would be a good site to follow.

Urban Funscape

Another one where the clue’s in the name. Urban Funscape is This Big City’s latest Tumblr obsession (and our final addition to this list), providing a stream of images that never fail to bring out a smile. Cities can be hilarious places – often unintentionally – and this Tumblog has captured moments that most urban dwellers could relate to.

Images courtesy of jessaax on flickr and Tumblr

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Bicicleta, Calles, Desarrollo Urbano, Espacio Publico, Estacionamiento, Movilidad, Peaton, Trafico, TransportePublico, Urbanismo | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

20 exitos en Planeacion Urbana

Planear una area urbana que sea grandiosa y funcional requiere tanto de inovacion  como de conocimiento 

Los siguientes 20 exitos en  planeacion urbana abarcan una amplia gama de ciudades que van desde Taos de los indios Pueblo a la funcionalidad actual presente en el distrito de Camdem en Londres. Entre estos extremos descubriran muchos ejemplos de planeacion urbana que ha resistido la prueba del tiempo o que fue exitosa para remediar los destrozos causados por el tiempo.  

  1. AmsterdamAmsterdam, Netherlands: The capital and largest city in the Netherlands, Amsterdam has flourished from the 14th century. In the early 17th century, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ bay. Today, with little expansion, only 20 percent of trips around the city are in a car. Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world.
  2. BillericaBillerica Garden Suburb, Massachusetts: Incorporated in 1914, Billerica offered the country’s first garden suburb designed specifically for workers. Modeled after Ebenezer Howard’s English garden city designs, Billerica combined a limited dividend corporation with co-partnership. Workers would own their homes by purchasing shares. The result was the construction of 70 new homes between 1914 and 1917.
  3. Camden TownCamden Town, London: Camden Town is largely pedestrian, and the number of residential areas is surprising, considering the number of shops and merchants. It is walkable from most central London districts, and dozens of train and transit lines connect to this area, with the main underground tube station right in the center. There is no one age group, race, gender or socio-economic group that outnumbers another as pedestrians mix for entertainment, living and shopping.
  4. ChicagoChicago Boulevard System: The history of the Boulevard System of Chicago was conceived in 1837 and constantly expanded over the years; but, by 2001, the increasing popularity of the neighborhood and the trend of tearing down single family homes to build multi-unit condominiums threatened the integrity and historic significance of the boulevards. In 2005, the Chicago City Council designated the “Logan Square Boulevards District” as an official city landmark district, preserving this design for future generations.
  5. Eugene OregonEugene, Oregon: If you want to know about green cities, Eugene make the top five in the Popular Science America’s 50 Greenest Cities. But, it is the most ambitious in this goal, it seems, as wind-generated and hydroelectric sources now generate 85 percent of its energy. They also introduced a hybrid transit system and plans to be carbon neutral with no waste by 2020. Eugene is known as a walkable, bikeable, accessible, active and involved community.
  6. Forest ParkForest Park, St. Louis, Missouri: Thanks to a city-wide effort involving both for-profit and non-profit partners, Forest Park was restored to the world-class stature it held nearly a century ago. Dedicated on 24 June 1876, and site of the 1904 World’s Fair, the park is home to St. Louis’s major cultural institutions as well as to some of the city’s oldest forested areas. At 1,293 acres, it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York.
  7. Granville IslandGranville Island, Vancouver: Granville Island began its transformation in the late 1970’s from a declining 37-acre industrial park in Vancouver’s False Creek to possibly the most successful urban redevelopment ever seen in North America. Granville Island’s lessons are that great places can be created almost anywhere under any conditions with minimal expense.
  8. GreensburgGreensburg Sustainable Comprehensive Plan: On 4 May 2007, an F-5 class tornado touched down more than 75 times, took 12 lives, and leveled the town of Greensburg, Kansas. Residents translated this tragedy as an opportunity to rebuild. The Greensburg City Council enacted a requirement that all publicly funded buildings over 4,000 square feet must be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum certification level, the only city in the world with that level of commitment to sustainable building standards.
  9. High LineHigh Line: Although this elevated park in the sky built on top of the skeleton of an old rail system in New York opened in 2009, it has become one of the world’s greatest urban experiments in turning a former industrial relic into a park. Since then, 2 million visitors have strolled along the six-block greenway between 14th and 20th Streets. Recently, it was announced that the High Line will double in length over the next year.
  10. RotterdamLijnbaan in Rotterdam: This area represents the first purpose-built pedestrian street (little to no auto traffic), opened in 1953. It served as a model for what are known as “pedestrian malls” in the U.S. While still in their infancy, some examples include: Boulder, Colorado; Buffalo, New York; Portland, Maine and Seattle, Washington. A list of U.S. pedestrian malls, including ones that have re-opened to traffic, is presented by Urban Review STL.
  11. New OrleansLower Garden District, New Orleans: Despite impacts from hurricanes, this area in New Orleans still contains an extensive collection of 19th-century residential and commercial buildings, many pre-dating the Civil War and 150-year-old oak trees. Most of the streets are one-lane residential or two-lane commercial; however, vehicles do not dominate this neighborhood.
  12. MariemontMarimont, Ohio: When Thomas J. Emery died in 1906, his widow, Mary Emery, undertook to erect a new town intended to serve as a national exemplar for suburban American and a permanent monument to her husband’s memory. Thus, as one of the first planned communities in the United States, Mariemont is well-known for its charming historic architecture, lush foliage, award-winning schools and friendly, community-minded residents.
  13. New HavenNine Square Plan, New Haven, Connecticut: Minister John Davenport and merchant Theophilius Eaton laid out a new city in 1638, following the principles of ideal cities gleaned from the Bible. They focused on a central square a half mile on a side, then subdivided into nine squares. This plan established the framework for the central-green, grid-street based village plan used by hundreds of newly settled towns across New England and westward throughout the U.S.
  14. Ponce Puerto RicoPonce Center City, Puerto Rico: A great grandson of Juan Ponce de León founded Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the end of the 17th Century. Like most Spanish colonial towns, Ponce had a square with a church and a municipal building. An important aspect of Ponce is that it has had the foresight to preserve the many XIX century buildings that stand around the main square’s expanse. While modern with its malls, Ponce has preserved an historic aspect.
  15. SanibelSanibel Island, Florida: In 2006 the Sanibel Island community marked the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking Sanibel Plan that identified nine major ecological zones to help planners designate appropriate land uses, intensity, and performance standards. The plan has since allowed Sanibel to grow without exceeding the island’s natural carrying capacity.
  16. South Livermore ValleySouth Livermore Valley Specific Plan, California: Faced with the potential loss of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land in the heart of an active wine-producing region, the City of Livermore created an innovative conservation mechanism to curb sprawl and permanently protect the community’s vineyards. Implemented in 1996, by 2006 the plan had resulted in the direct placement of 3,229 acres under permanent agricultural easement.
  17. Taos PuebloTaos, Pueblo, New Mexico: Possibly one of the earliest high-rise towns, this area has been home to Native Americans since at least the 1500s, and the multi-storied adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years. As a place, it is unique in being so old, still true-to-form and environmentally appropriate.
  18. Indies LawThe Law of the Indies: Developed by the Spanish Crown to direct colonization in the New World, the Laws of the Indies contained instructions for site selection and the layout and construction of new towns. Issued by King Philip, the laws included 148 ordinances. Signed in 1573, the Laws of the Indies are seen as the first wide-ranging guidelines towards design and development of communities.
  19. Miami ValleyThe Miami Valley (Ohio) Region’s Fair Share Housing Plan of 1970: Known as the “Dayton Plan,” Miami Valley’s approach to providing affordable housing opportunities in each of five counties in the region became the first “fair share” housing plan in the nation, influencing federal government policies.
  20. Philadelphia PlanThe Plan of Philadelphia: Only a year after William Penn approved the siting of the city, the 1683 Plan of Philadelphia was created. Philadelphia was the first large American city to utilize the grid street pattern, to provide dedicated land exclusively for open green public squares, to provide street widths that vary with their functions, and to include a planned area intended to accommodate significant and long-term future growth.
Publicado en Desarrollo Urbano, Planeacion Urbana, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , , , | Deja un comentario

Ciudad Fraccionada vs. Ciudad Integrada


Este video debe ser difundido entre toda la poblacion y debe ser visto y discutido a profundidad con los candidatos a gobernar esta ciudad y tambien el pais.

El video lleva a otros videos sobre la ciudad que es conveniente ver.

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Calles, Caminabilidad, Densidad y Productividad, Movilidad, Planificacion Urbana, Politicas Publicas | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Recuperación de Plusvalías y el Impuesto a la Propiedad Inmobiliaria

Origen: Value Capture and the Property Tax | Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

El suelo juega un papel central tanto en el financiamiento de la infraestructura como en el mantenimiento de servicios municipales básicos en regiones metropolitanas de todo el mundo.

La recuperación de plusvalías, también conocida como coparticipación del valor, es un tipo de financiamiento basado en el suelo que parte reconociendo que la inversión pública y la acción gubernamental −una nueva estación de transporte público, por ejemplo, o cambios de zonificación− aumentan el valor de la propiedad para los propietarios privados. Este aumento del valor se puede medir y cobrar para respaldar nueva construcción de infraestructura, viviendas sociales y otros servicios e instalaciones que mejoran la calidad de vida de todos los residentes. Un impuesto a la propiedad inmobiliaria que funcione bien, por otro lado, es el cimiento de la salud fiscal municipal: una fuente de ingresos estable y regular que permite el suministro de servicios esenciales a largo plazo.

La recuperación de plusvalías

El concepto de recuperación de plusvalías se remonta a la antigua Roma y ha sido implementado en Europa, Asia y América Latina. Más recientemente, Brasil ha instaurado el financiamiento basado en el suelo en varias ciudades, y se han propuesto programas similares en Australia y los Estados Unidos. Indudablemente existe la necesidad de un nuevo método de financiamiento de la infraestructura urbana, dado el creciente déficit de infraestructura en los Estados Unidos y la rápida expansión de las megaciudades, sobre todo en el mundo en vías de desarrollo. El objetivo de la recuperación de plusvalías es mejorar la calidad de vida de todos los residentes urbanos en el mundo entero.

Los tipos de herramientas de financiamiento basadas en el suelo que se asientan en el concepto de recuperación de plusvalías incluyen: la adquisición de suelo público, el impuesto sobre la propiedad y sobre el valor del suelo, las contribuciones por mejora, la transferencia de derechos de desarrollo, el reajuste de suelo, la concesión onerosa del derecho de construir y los CEPACs (Certificados de Potencial Adicional de Construcción).

Video: value capture expert Martim Smolka discusses value capture as a tool for urban development (15 mins).

Martim Smolka, Director del Programa para América Latina y el Caribe del Instituto Lincoln, explica cómo se ha implementado la recuperación de plusvalías en América Latina.

El impuesto a la propiedad inmobiliaria 

El impuesto a la propiedad inmobiliaria, un pilar de los gobiernos locales, es una fuente de ingreso local equitativa, democrática, estable y eficiente — la base para el convenio social esencial de ciudades alrededor del mundo. El impuesto es muy transparente; los ciudadanos pueden ver claramente cómo se gasta su dinero y pueden hacer rendir cuentas a los gobiernos locales. En los Estados Unidos, los impuestos a la propiedad inmobiliaria generan alrededor de US$472.000 millones anuales en ingresos locales, una fuente crítica de financiamiento para las escuelas, la policía, los bomberos y otros servicios públicos. En todo el mundo, hay sistemas de impuestos a la propiedad bien establecidos en Europa, Australia y a lo largo de América Latina, y se están desarrollando en Europa Oriental, África y China.

Financiamiento escolar y el impuesto sobre la propiedad

Algunos de los debates políticos más significativos acerca del impuesto sobre la propiedad no tienen que ver con el impuesto en sí, sino con el uso de su recaudación para financiar las escuelas públicas locales

Publicado en Economia | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Liderando el camino: visionarios, científicos, héroes y poetas | La gobernanza del transporte en ciudades

Origen: Leading the way: Visionaries, scientists, heroes and poets | World Streets: The Governance of Transport in Cities

Cavilaciones nocturnas sobre algunos de los creativos pensadores que en las últimas cinco décadas han, cada uno en su muy individual manera, re_modelaron enteramente nuestras visiones de una ciudad justa, eficiente y sostenible.

No ser demasiado agresivo aquí, pero si tu, como planificador, tomador de decisiones, activista o estudiante, no estás familiarizado con el pensamiento y los logros de un buen número de estos campeones de la transportación sostenible, ciudades sostenibles y vidas sostenibles, entonces tienes una importante tarea que hacer antes de que puedas realmente hincar diente, entender y hacer una contribución. Y en cada caso los perfiles Wikipedia proporcionan sólo una introducción preliminar para que comiences, junto con una primera ronda de referencias a su trabajo y contribuciones suficientes para que puedas comenzar a comprender su genialidad y contribuciones.

Echemos un vistazo a mi lista personal de héroes de la sostenibilidad. (Sin duda tendrás la tuya, así que por favor compartelos con

Additional details and references to follow in due course. For this first phase and to get the ball rolling,  initial  references mainly from WP.

Rob Adams (Australia) –

Donald Appleyard (USA) –

S.K. Jason Chang (Taiwan/China) –

Bertrand Delanoë -(France) –

Jan Gehl (Denmark) –

Ivan Illich ( Croatian/Austria/Mexico) htps://

Jane Jacobs (USA/Canada) –

Jaime Lerner (Brazil) –

Ken Livingstone (UK) –

Clover Moore (Australia) –

Carlos Felipe Pardo -(Colombia) –

Enrique Peñalosa (Colombia) –

Lee Myung-bak (South Korea) –

Hans Monderman  (The Netherlands)-

Peter  Newman (Australia) –

Jens Roerbeck (Denmark) –

Janette Sadik-Kahn (USA)-

Lee Schipper  (USA) –

Luud Schimmelpennink (The Netherlands) – –

Susan Shaheen (USA) –

Donald Shoup (USA) –

John Whitelegg (UK) –

William Hollingsworth “HollyWhyte (USA) –

William Vickrey (Canada/USA) – 

Hans-Jochen Vogel (Germany) –

# # #

Y que si algo en común tienen, que un joven como tu que aspira a un mundo mejor, tal vez quiera saber más acerca de ellos. Dado que he tenido el gran honor de conocer personalmente, y trabajar con y aprender de la mayoría de ellos en las últimas décadas, permítanme compartir algunos de mis pensamientos con ustedes.

Cada persona en esta corta lista es un pensador abierto, independiente, técnicamente sólido, tenaz, siempre dispuesto a aprender, modesto, dispuesto a lidiar con el proceso democrático, y, permítanme decirlo, un genio (que por supuesto ayuda). En todos los casos han ido contracorriente de todo el pensamiento y resistencia a nuevas ideas, y nunca se quejaron.

William Vickrey, para escoger un ejemplo, siempre desesperó que su trabajo seminal sobre fijar precios al uso de carreteras y, en general, fijar precios a recursos escasos, no hiciera mella en las políticas públicas. Estaba equivocado. El Profesor William Vickrey de la Graduate Faculties of Economics of Columbia University fue galardonado con el Premio Nobel 1966 en Ciencias Económicas con James Mirrlees, por su investigación sobre la teoría económica de los incentivos bajo información asimétrica. Y por sus contribuciónes para ampliar nuestro pensamiento sobre el poder que tiene la economía en una sociedad justa y eficiente, que ha penetrado de tal modo en nuestra cultura que casi olvidamos por qué pensamos de esa manera. Tal es la naturaleza de la cultura.

Déjame dejarte con tres palabras que vienen a mi mente al considerar a estas personas y sus contribuciones transformadoras de la sociedad. Son, cada uno de ellos, visionarios, científicos y poetas.

Publicado en Cultura, Filosofia | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

¿Que leen los planificadores urbanos hoy en dia?

Lo que planificadores inteligentes estan leyendo ahora sobre | Walking | Cycling | Transit | Placemaking | Streets | Economics | Planning | Amsterdam | Atlanta | Austin | Baltimore | Bangk…

Origen: The 257 Master City – 257

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Acera, Areas Verdes y Naturales, Automóvil, Bicicleta, Buses, Calles, Caminabilidad, Ciudad, Dispersion Urbana, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Estacionamiento, Habitabilidad, Medio Ambiente, Metro o Tren Ligero, Movilidad, Peaton, Planificacion Urbana, Transporte, Urbanismo, Uso de Suelo, Vivienda | Deja un comentario

URBANIZED-Instructivo documental sobre el diseño de las ciudades.

“Más de la mitad de la población mundial habita en zonas urbanas, y la previsión es que en 2050 lo haga hasta el 75%. Mientras algunas urbes están sufriendo un crecimiento explosivo, otras es…

Origen: URBANIZED-Instructivo documental sobre el diseño de las ciudades.

Para ver el documental completo haz click aquí

Publicado en Ciudad, Planificacion Urbana, Urbanismo | Deja un comentario

6 Documentales de arquitectura y urbanismo para ver.

Origen: 6 Documentales de arquitectura y urbanismo para ver.

¿Cual es tu espacio favorito?

Fotos de edificios, arquitectos invitados, estudiantes de arquitectura, paisajistas, antropólogos, artistas y otras personas creativas para documentar la arquitectura portuguesa a través de películas para compartir sus conocimientos y experiencias en los espacios que marcan los recuerdos, ya sea, por último, los lugares favoritos mundanos o inspiradores de cada uno. 31 vídeos fueron presentados y 24 fueron seleccionados para la edición de este documental experimental acerca de la arquitectura portuguesa.


El documental de Jesper Wachtmeister explora cómo los arquitectos, artistas y diseñadores pueden extender los límites aparentemente posibles de habitar nuestro planeta basado en los conceptos de la portabilidad, flexibilidad e independencia de la “red”. ¿Cuánto espacio, materiales y otros lujos realmente necesitamos? Una serie de propuestas innovadoras se unen en un esfuerzo para formar nuevas comunidades sostenibles sin consecuencias ambientales.


Esta es la historia de una intervención urbana en Trafaria, un barrio pobre cerca de Lisboa. Los arquitectos trabajaron con la comunidad y después de analizar la situación del barrio y su gente, decidieron apoyar la creación de huertos comunitarios en tres áreas diferentes. Al introducir el equipamiento urbano básico se generaron nuevos espacios de encuentro, y sus habitantes comenzaron a producir y consumir sus propios alimentos.

Bela Vista.

La geometría de la vida de un barrio: el Bela Vista, en Setúbal, Portugal. Un documental que muestra el espacio en el que mira, los gestos, las experiencias y las palabras se cruzan – una historia humana. Con 30 minutos de duración, fue elegido el mejor cortometraje en el Festival Internacional de Documentales de Santiago de Chile.

Christiania, 40 Years Of Occupation.

Formado en los años 70 por cientos de jóvenes idealistas que luchaban contra una severa escasez de vivienda, la comunidad “autónoma” cubre 35 hectáreas donde viven actualmente más de 800 personas. Con los años, Christiania ha construido una cultura basada en el consenso del grupo y una economía próspera de restaurantes, bares, la artesanía y el comercio abierto de marihuana. El documental del mismo nombre, cuenta su historia a través de la lente de Robert Lawson y Richard Jackman.

Double Happiness.

Este es un viaje cinematográfico a través de China, donde se clonó la ciudad austríaca de Hallstatt a transformarse en un proyecto inmobiliario. Las preguntas de la película de la planificación urbana: ¿Cuál es el significado de la “autenticidad” de la arquitectura contemporánea? ¿Podemos cambiar el estado de ánimo de la ciudad a través de los edificios? ¿Somos capaces de copiar una atmósfera? ¿La imagen de una ciudad se puede vender como un producto? 

Publicado en Edificios, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Ciudad Tradicional/Materialismo Post-Heroico 

Origen: Traditional City/Post-Heroic Materialism | New World Economics

Publicado en Desarrollo Urbano, Filosofia, Urbanismo | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Foro sobre Ciudades Globales Chicago 2016

El Foro de Chicago sobre Ciudades Globales de 2016

Vale la pena ver con calma los 12 videos hechos de las diversas conferencias y paneles de discusión que tuvieron lugar durante el foro. Los integrantes de las diversas mesas de discusion son personas con un alto grado de conocimiento y experiencia en los temas tratados y nos hace pensar en cuales pòdrian ser las mejores soluciones alternativas para los problemas de nuestra CdMx y las demas ciudades de nuestro pais MX, actualmente encrisis y sufriendo un acelerado deterioro en su infraestructura, espacio publico y vitalidad urbana y cohesion de la comunidad.


Publicado en Accesibilidad, Agua, Areas Verdes y Naturales, Automóvil, Bicicleta, Buses, Calles, Caminabilidad, Ciudad, Cultura, Densidad y Productividad, Derechos Humanos, Desarrollo Urbano, Economia, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Estacionamiento, Habitabilidad, Integracion social, Medio Ambiente, Movilidad, Peaton, Planificacion Urbana, Politicas Publicas, Seguridad, Trafico, TransportePublico, Urbanismo, Uso de Suelo, Vivienda | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Restricciones de Velocidad y Calidad del Aire

Liga al PDF Speed Restriction & Air Quality

 Evaluación de los Impactos en las emisiones de los vehículos de la medida de restringir la velocidad a 30kph en el centro de Londres. Estudio elaborado por Transport and Environmental Analysis Group, Centre for Transport Studies, Imperial College London

Resumen Ejecutivo

Este trabajo de investigación se llevo a cabo durante el primer trimestre de 2013 para abordar la cuestión del impacto ambiental que pueden tener las restricciones de velocidad urbana a 30 kph en la parte central de Londres. Modelos de velocidad promedio sugieren que un límite de velocidad mas bajo en zonas urbanas puede dar lugar a mas emisiones contaminantes. Sin embargo, el tipo de tráfico de arranca-frena presente en el centro de Londres significa que un procedimiento de este tipo pudiera no ser el mas adecuado, y requiere de mas investigación.

Se trataron los siguientes objetivos:

  1. Diferencia en el estilo de conducir que se da en calles de 30 kph y de 50 kph
  2. Impacto de este cambio en la estimación de emisiones de NOx, PM10 y CO2 por el tubo de escape.
  3. Impacto sobre las emisiones de diferentes métodos de control de velocidad en vías urbanas.
  4. Impacto sobre las emisiones producidas por desgaste de freno y neumáticos de una zona 30 kph
Publicado en Calles, Contaminacion Ambiental, Medio Ambiente, Politicas Publicas, Responsabilidad Social, Transporte | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Calles Lentas: Libro de Consulta

Calles Lentas – Libro de Consulta

Proposito de este documento

El Libro de Consulta -Calles Lentas- ilustra una serie de medidas para pacificar el tráfico que reducen la velocidad del tráfico y mejoran la calidad del lugar. Proporciona una ‘referencia rápida’ para diseñadores de calles y recopila las ideas y ejemplos que se han implementado en varias partes de Londres y otros lugares en el Reino Unido . El libro de consulta esta pensado para ser utilizado como una memoria de ayuda y no busca reemplazar la literatura técnica o de políticas publicada sobre este tema.

La investigación llevada a cabo Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) sugiere que los diseños de calles que inducen a velocidad de circulación lenta son una de las maneras más eficaces para reducir la frecuencia y gravedad de las colisiones viales.

El alcalde de Londres ha establecido objetivos para mejorar sustancialmente la seguridad vial y actualmente se estan estableciendo zonas 30 kph más allá del típico entorno en zona residencial a las calles principales de Londres.

La evidencia (1) muestra que donde las velocidades promedio son de 40 kph o mas, poner un límite de velocidad de 30 kph no basta por si solo para disminuir la velocidad del trafico y hacer que sea generalmente respetada. Investigaciones han demostrado que las velocidades vehiculares solo disminuirán en aproximadamente 1.6 kph si solamente se utiliza señalización (2) y por tanto se vuelven necesarias medidas físicas adicionales de pacificación de tráfico .

Para fomentar un mayor cumplimiento del límite de velocidad en zonas 30 kph estos deben formar parte de un mas amplio programa de involucramiento de la comunidad, en vez de sólo ser una cuestión de gestión del tráfico.

Este Libro de Referencia tiene como objetivo ayudar a la gente con interés en el diseño de calles lentas mediante la recopilación de una amplia gama de medidas establecidas e innovadoras de pacificación de tráfico en un solo documento para ayudarles a tomar decisiones informadas para su plan. Es importante que cada plan sea considerado individualmente dentro de su propio contexto para evitar que las medidas de pacificación de tráfico se vuelvan intrusívas, ineficaces e impopulares.

Un buen diseño del paisaje vial puede ayudar a mejorar el sentir general de una zona, y animar a más gente a caminar y montar bicicleta y usar las calles de manera responsable.

Esto ayuda a hacer un entorno más seguro y agradable para todos. Caminar o montar en bicicleta son a menudo la principal manera de tener actividad física para muchos londinenses. A medida que más personas sienten más confianza en caminar y montar bicicleta por Londres, esto también ofrecerá una amplia gama de beneficios para la salud.

El Libro de Consulta está abierto a comentarios y sugerencias o ejemplos adicionales que los lectores puedan tener. Por favor, póngase en contacto con los autores en

Seguir leyendo el manual completo en ingles pique en  Calles Lentas – Libro de Consulta


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Rescate de Rios Urbanos – Propuestas Conceptuales y Metodológicas para la restauración y rehabilitación de rios

Un estudio muy amplio y completo elaborado por el PUEC de la UNAM, vale la pena leerlo con calma.



Publicado en Agua, Areas Verdes y Naturales, Conagua, Economia, Espacio Publico, Medio Ambiente, Responsabilidad Social, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Lo que no se ha sabido explicar del RT CdMx

El gobierno de Miguel Ángel Mancera ha hecho una deficiente labor de socialización del RTCDMX, por lo que decidimos echarle una ayudadita.

Origen: Lo que Mancera no ha sabido explicarte del reglamento de tránsito – Animal Político  

El 15 de diciembre entró en vigor el nuevo reglamento de tránsito de la Ciudad de México que, a pesar de haber sido anunciado 6 meses antes, tomó por sorpresa a muchos capitalinos. Surgieron los automovilistas enojados y los que no comprenden por qué hay muchos avances en la nueva normativa. Sin embargo, el gobierno de Miguel Ángel Mancera ha hecho una deficiente labor de socialización del RTCDMX, por lo que decidimos echarle una ayudadita.

Con el nuevo reglamento:

1. Las personas podrán cruzar legalmente en cualquier punto de las calles secundarias “con un máximo de dos carriles efectivos de circulación […] siempre y cuando sea posible hacerlo de manera segura” (Art. 5, fracc. IV).

Esto es bueno porque ya era algo que sucedía: cuando las cuadras son demasiado largas y tienen lugares que instan a ser visitados (comercios, restaurantes, servicios, oficinas…) la gente siempre querrá cruzar. Más aún cuando los que cruzan son peatones con alguna discapacidad, peatones cargando cosas pesadas, peatones con niños, peatones niños (cuya zancada es más corta y que por su tamaño se cansan más). Asegurar que sea legal y que además sea instado por la autoridad es algo positivo por donde se le vea. Hagamos la calle más fácil para los peatones y caminantes.

Imagen: Liga Peatonal
Imagen: Liga Peatonal

2. Menos niños morirán atropellados.

Actualmente los incidentes viales son la principal causa de muerte entre menores de 1 a 15 años a nivel nacional. Los niños son NUESTROS niños y todos debemos cuidarlos. Las ciudades deben tomar medidas para evitar que niños mueran tanto atropellados como involucrados en colisiones. Con el nuevo RTCDMX, hay una disminución de velocidad en zonas escolares a 20 km/h (Art. 9, fracc. V) y la obligación de usar silla de retención para niños (Art. 39). Con estas dos medidas aseguramos que los conductores sean más cuidadosos en las zonas escolares y que los niños vayan mejor resguardados dentro de los vehículos.

Límites de Velocidad: campo visual

3. Menos ciclistas y peatones perderán la vida por quedar entre las llantas de un camión de carga.

Gracias a la obligación de colocar protecciones laterales (salvaguardas) que evitan, en caso de colisión lateral, que queden entre las llantas del camión. (Art. 40, fracc. V, inciso A).

4. Disminuirán las muertes, así como incapacidades permanentes y temporales de peatones en general y, en particular, de la población vulnerable (personas con discapacidad, adultos mayores, madres con niños pequeños) por la prohibición de vuelta continua a la derecha por la que muchos conductores de automóvil no ceden el paso.

Investigaciones afirman que las vueltas continuas incrementan los conflictos en las intersecciones y que, de hecho, son infraestructura que eleva el riesgo para los peatones. (Art. 10, fracc. X). Para conocer más estudios acerca del riesgo de las vueltas continuas puedes checar este link y este otro. Aún nos queda mucho por explorar y por innovar en infraestructura de seguridad vial, pero la CMDX se ha caracterizado en la última década por innovar.

5. Disminuirán los incidentes viales por distracción, ya que habrá menos personas usando su celular al conducir.

Reduciendo hasta 23 veces las probabilidades de sufrir un incidente vial. Hablar y manejar distrae tanto como conducir ebrio (si no lo crees, revisa la prueba de MythBusters aquí). Estudios indican que el 92% de los mexicanos usan su celular al conducir. (Art. 38, fracc. II, inciso e).

6. Habrá menos fallecimientos y lesionados graves por exceso de velocidad, ya que a una velocidad de 50 km/h hay mayores probabilidades de sobrevivir.

Un aumento del 5% en la velocidad media supone un aumento aproximado del 10% de los accidentes con heridos y del 20% de los accidentes mortales. (Art. 9). Además, gracias a esta nueva medida, la capital mexicana se une a lasrecomendaciones internacionales de la OMS y adoptadas por países europeos y por los países con la menor mortalidad en siniestros viales. Las nuevas velocidades son buenas porque la evidencia internacional comprueba que:

  • A menor velocidad, el conductor tiene mejor vista periférica que es básica para saber qué ocurre a su alrededor y para poder prevenir en el caso de cualquier situación de riesgo.
  • A menor velocidad, hay mayores probabilidades de sobrevivir si sufres un accidente (tanto si eres atropellado como si vas dentro del coche).

Límites de velocidad: campo visual 2

Límites de velocidad: distancia de frenado 2

7. Los ciclistas tienen más claros sus derechos y obligaciones para circular con seguridad y cuidar de peatones y otros usuarios vulnerables. (Capítulo III).

Es decir, gracias a este reglamento y a que organizaciones ciclistas como Bicitekas colaboraron en su elaboración, ahora es más claro para todos. A partir de esto, Bicitekas elaboró esta cartilla de Derechos y Obligaciones que puedes imprimir y repartir para que más gente conozca sus derechos.

8. Se desincentivará la reincidencia de conductas peligrosas.

Esto gracias a multas más severas y automatizadas para los conductores de vehículos automotores, el principal factor de la ecuación de la seguridad vial. (Título Sexto, Capítulo I).

9. Todos los ocupantes del auto deberán usar su cinturón de seguridad.

Esto reduce en un 75% la probabilidad de morir en un incidente vial. Hoy en día solo el 45% de los ocupantes lo usa. (Art. 37, fracc. II, inciso b).

10. Las víctimas de incidentes viales estarán protegidas al contar una póliza de seguro de responsabilidad civil.

Actualmente, menos del 40% de los automovilistas cuentan con una (Art. 46).

11. Se incentiva más a la movilidad no motorizada al implementar medidas como el Idaho Stop o el que los ciclistas se puedan pasar los altos en vías secundarias con precaución (Artículo 16).

¿Por qué es buena esta medida? Por dos razones:

  • Seguridad vial: cuando el ciclista utiliza su fuerza para el arranque hay un momento inestable en el que zigzaguea lo cual puede ser malo para su seguridad y la visibilidad que tiene de éste el automovilista. Cuando el ciclista se “pasa” los altos, evita el detenerse y el consiguiente arranque nuevamente, lo que a su vez evita este momento inestable. Recordemos que el ciclista va a una velocidad promedio de 15km/hr lo que le permite ver lo que sucede a su alrededor y decidir si es o no conveniente cruzar la calle cuando está el alto.
  • Eficiencia Energética: El ciclista no utiliza ni motor ni combustible; utiliza su propia fuerza. El momento en el que más requiere de energía es cuando arranca. Si le permitimos al ciclista evitar (previa decisión de seguridad) el “pasarse” el alto, le estaremos ahorrando energía. Este ahorro de energía nos conviene a todos porque es un incentivo y porque es, además, un usuario que no contamina y que nos conviene a todos en la ciudad.

Eso sí: aún con esta medida EL PEATÓN SIEMPRE TENDRÁ LA PREFERENCIA y el ciclista deberá siempre darle prioridad a él. Si un peatón va a cruzar, el ciclista debe detenerse.

12. Se incentiva la ciudad caminable al estipular que el peatón siempre tendrá la preferencia (y bajo cualquier circunstancia sobre todos los demás usuarios de la vía).

Esto porque el peatón es el usuario más vulnerable; se mueve a menor velocidad y sin ninguna protección; suelen ser niños, adultos mayores, mujeres embarazadas (Art 5, 6, 10). Además, el gobierno de la Ciudad de México ha decidido innovar al respecto: por primera vez y gracias a la tecnología de las fotomultas, se están detectando y sancionando conductas que afectan a los peatones: invasión de cebras y vueltas prohibidas. Las fotomultas, por cierto, son una gran solución en temas de seguridad vial y aquí te explicamos por qué. ¡Hay que pedir más fotomultas!

13. Las autoridades deberán trabajar en estricto apego al reglamento, ya que gracias a este nuevo reglamento los medios de impugnación son más sencillos. (Art. 69 y 70).

Es muy importante que el objetivo del reglamento sea claro para todos: la seguridad vial y la convivencia de los actores en la vía pública. Es decir: el reglamento no tiene por objetivo reducir contaminación, por ejemplo. Para disminuir emisiones las soluciones deben ser más profundas y complejas. Ayudemos a hacer de ésta una ciudad donde sea más amable, sano y seguro moverse. La violencia vial nos cuesta mucho, tanto económica (150 mil millones de pesos al año, o sea, 1.7% del PIB), como socialmente (17 mil muertes al año y 860 mil personas viven con una discapacidad derivada de incidentes de tránsito). La violencia vial es una realidad y es importante combatirla con normativas y con infraestructura. El reglamento de tránsito es un buen comienzo.

Para conocer el Reglamento de Tránsito completo consulta aquí.




Publicado en Automóvil, Bicicleta, Buses, Calles, Espacio Publico, Movilidad, Peaton, Responsabilidad Social, Seguridad, Trafico | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Rescate de Rios Urbanos

Estudio elaborado por la UNAM -Coordinacion de Humanidades y PUEC-

«Propuestas conceptuales y metodologicas para la restauracion y rehabilitacion de rios urbanos»

Publicado en Agua, Medio Ambiente, Politicas Publicas, Responsabilidad Social | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Morbilidad de Peaton por colision a diversas velocidades

Origen: Accidents at speed

Tabla dinámica que permite ver la variacion en riesgo de muerte en funcion de la velocidad del vehiculo y  grupo humano, con modelos diversos creados en varias partes del mundo

Riesgo de Morbilidad Peatonal en funcion de la velocidad al dar el impacto

Seleccionas el modelo entre las opciones
Rosen & Sander

Rosen & Sander o Davies en diversas edades o Oh Korea o Kong China

Seleccionas la velocidad al momento del impacto desde 10km/h hasta 100km/h


«Relating severity of pedestrian injury to impact speed in vehicle pedestrian crashes». Davis G.A Davis uso datos de Ashton & Mackay para calcular la relación entre el riesgo de fatalidad del peatón y la velocidad de impacto para adultos mayores (edad 60+ años)

La velocidad de impacto contra el suelo de 30 kmh puede obtenerse cayendo desde una altura de 3.5 metros.  Esto equivale a caer desde una ventana de 1er piso

20 km/h  Chance of Death  0.3%
30 km/h  Chance of Death  2.3%
40 km/h  Chance of Death 15.1%
Publicado en Peaton, Politicas Publicas, Responsabilidad Social, Seguridad | Etiquetado , , , , | Deja un comentario

El Génesis Auto_Céntrico

El Genesis Auto-Centrico

Publicado en Automóvil, Estacionamiento, Responsabilidad Social, Transporte | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

La Tirania del Automovil


Video entrevista con la autora, que aborda los cambios que se han presentado en el mundo con relacion al uso del automovil y su integracion destructiva para la ciudad, en los 10 años desde la publicacion del libro.

Publicado en Automóvil, Editoriales, Politicas Publicas, Responsabilidad Social, Trafico, TransportePublico | Etiquetado , , , , , | Deja un comentario

Comida y Bebida factor imprescindible de la Cultura de la Ciudad de Mexico: 10 lugares para comer hamburguesas

Te recomendamos las mejores hamburguesas del D.F. que nunca creíste probar. Garantía de sabor.

Origen: 10 lugares para comer hamburguesas en la Ciudad de México – Cultura Colectiva

Las clásicas hamburguesas con papas siempre son garantía de una buena comida. En los últimos años han abierto deliciosos lugares en Ciudad de México que ofrecen recetas tradicionales pero también creaciones originales con sabores sorprendentes que han cambiado la forma de ver a la hamburguesa sólo como comida rápida. Nos dimos a la tarea de buscar las recomendaciones y valoraciones de expertos gourmet -aparte de probarlas nosotros mismos- para presentarte 10 hamburguesas imperdibles de CDMX

We Love Burgers
we love burguersSi quieres probar una nueva forma de degustar hamburguesas, te recomendamos We Love Burgers en la Condesa. Las donas glaseadas son el pan que llevan estas originales hamburguesas. Sopas, malteadas, aros de cebolla, tocino y mucho queso.

Butcher & Sons
butcher and sons
Hamburguesas gourmet, ensaladas, hot dogs, malteadas con whisky y de los lugares de la Ciudad de México con los mejores gin tonics “God save the gin“. Las papas Cash están envueltas en tocino y aparte hay opciones vegetarianas. Cuenta con cinco sucursales (Roma, Polanco, Pedregal, Centro y Mercado Roma).

Smokey´s Burger House
smokey burgerSu slogan no podía ser más cierto, “tenemos corazón de hamburguesa”. Y es que el menú tiene creaciones originales en las que los ingredientes se combinan para lograr sabores que nunca creíste en una hamburguesa. Pan artesanal y carne angus prime.

Kitchen 6
kitchen 61En horno de leña o en el grill cocinan sus hamburguesas. La carta incluye opciones para vegetarianos como la hamburguesa de milanesa de soya. Su concepto de gastropub, el cuidado de los ingredientes y las cervezas artesanales la coloca como una experiencia garantizada. Con ubicaciones en Condesa, Roma y San Ángel.

B Town
b townEl chef es un hawaiano que ha hecho de B Town una burger boutique con un menú de más de 15 diferentes hamburguesas, “postres con glamour” y entradas suculentas. Cuentan con un roof top con un bar para antes o después de comer que la terminan de consolidar como una hamburguesería innovadora en la colonia Roma.

Barracuda Dinner
barracuda hamburguesas
El clásico de la Condesa que hace homenaje a la cafeterías cincuenteras de Estados Unidos. Además de las tradicionales y deliciosas hamburguesas con queso y tocino, tienen alitas enchiladas, dedos de queso, malteadas, hot dogs, sandwiches y jugos. Imperdible.

Burgers by Buba
En Buba todo está hecho en casa, la carne la muelen ahí, los bollos se hornean al momento y cortan las papas a mano. Sabor tradicional pero con ingredientes frescos. Menú clásico que incluye limonadas frescas. Los jueves, viernes y sábado cierra hasta las 5 am.

La Burguesa
hamburguesas la burguesa
Al probarlas cambiará por completo todo lo que pensaste de las hamburguesas. Recetas realmente únicas de carne de sirloin, de cordero y de pollo. La “burguesa fuerte” combina la carne de cordero con espinacas a la crema, queso camembert y papas paja. De postre un helado de gansito.

Lo interesante de aquí son todas las salsas originales que se le pueden poner a las hamburguesas (chipotle, mayo BBQ, avocado ranch) además de que puedes diseñar tu propia hamburguesa. El menú lo acompañan deliciosas papas con chili y queso.

Félix  –  Álvaro Obregón # 64
felix mini hamburguesas
Su menú incluye tapas, mezcales y las famosas mini hamburguesas para acompañar un buen trago. Se trata desnacks con pan artesanal -suave y perfecto- que en sencillas presentaciones se vuelven toda una experiencia suculenta. (Álvaro Obregón # 64)

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Comida y Bebida factor imprescindible de la Cultura de la Ciudad de Mexico: Las mejores mezcalerías en Ciudad de México

Por toda la Ciudad de México puedes encontrar algunas de las mejores mezcalerías. Comida, música y mezcal se fusionan para la experiencia perfecta.

Las mejores mezcalerías en la Ciudad de México Por Daniel Morales octubre 23, 2015 @danielm_17

Origen: Las mejores mezcalerías en la Ciudad de México – Cultura Colectiva

Han sido años desde que el mezcal se puso de moda. Poco a poco la Ciudad de México recibió nuevos negocios en los que la dinámica era muy sencilla: conocer el mezcal, bebida tradicional mexicana. Acompañada de naranjas con sal de gusano o del tradicional queso Oaxaca, estos lugares se pusieron de moda por mantener un estilo folclórico y ofrecer limitados productos: mezcal, cerveza, queso, quesadillas y quizá algo más. Pero poco a poco las cosas han cambiado. El mezcal ya no esta en boca de todos, las marcas “artesanales” y “tradicionales” creadas por jóvenes emprendedores abundan las calles del Distrito Federal, y los lugares que abrieron hace años hoy se posicionan como los mejores para probar esta espirituosa bebida.

Antes era necesario viajar a lugares como Oaxaca o San Luis Potosí para disfrutar del mezcal, pero ahora la Ciudad de México concentra las mejores bebidas del país. Empeñados en que el mezcal es una bebida que se respeta, las mezcalerías, bares o restaurantes aquí mencionados ofrecen gran variedad de mezcales que, como buen catador, deberás ir conociendo poco a poco para después establecer un gusto propio, pero sobre todo, siempre deberás respetar un trago tradicional que exige toda la atención del paladar para entenderlo y apreciarlo. Estos son los mejores lugares en los que podrás disfrutar un buen mezcal:
Corazón de Maguey –  Jardín Centenario 9-A Col. Coyoacán Centro
En el corazón de Coyoacán se encuentra este tradicional lugar. No es un sitio que muchos frecuenten, pero no haber ido a él es convertirse en turista en su propia ciudad. Uno de los pioneros en otorgarle al mezcla el lugar que se merece, su carta es perfecta para comenzar a conocer la bebida.
La Botica  – mezcalerias – Orizaba 161, Roma Norte
Pueden ser los responsables de hacer que el boom del mezcal comenzara a mediados de la década pasada. Son pioneros en el concepto de las múltiples mezcalerías que vemos abiertas hoy; lugar básico con mesas y sillas de metal, la carta escrita a mano en un pedazo de cartón y eso si, una barra que despliega la impresionante variedad de mezcal. Conocida desde hace algunos años por ser buena, bonita y barata; aun conserva lo de buena y bonita.
La Capitana  – Plaza Versalles. Federico T. De la Chica 12, Sátelite
El norte de la ciudad no es conocido por ser abierto a experiencias mezcaleras, pues han existido intentos de llevar la cultura del mezcal pero no ha funcionado muy bien. La Capitana es uno de los lugares que mejor se ha adaptado a las necesidades de su público del norte. “El mezcal no te emborracha, te pone mágico” reza una de sus paredes. Con una buena variedad de mezcal puedes disfrutar ampliamente la bebida, pero si es que no llevas tanto dinero también puedes probar las “chabelitas con motor”; una mezcla de pulque, ron, cerveza y refresco.
La Clandestina  – Álvaro Obregón 298, Condesa
40 variedades de mezcal pueden parecer una exageración, pero cada una tiene una historia, un proceso y un efecto. Por suerte los meseros del lugar son perfectos para guiarte por el difícil y etílico camino hacia el dios del mezcal. Sin pretensiones, esta mezcalería ubicada en uno de los lugares en los que la gentrificación causó más impacto en la ciudad, es uno de los mejores para sentir esa cultura mexicana que el mezcal tiene.
Barra Alipús  – Guadalupe Victoria 15, Tlalpan Centro 
Orgullo de Oaxaca y del sur de la ciudad. Una de las mejores marcas de mezcal del país y por ende del mundo. En su sucursal del centro de Tlalpan puedes degustar su pequeña pero perfecta variedad de mezcal, te recomendamos el San Juan que es algo fuerte. Aunque sus platillos son pocos, son deliciosos y el Caldo Tlalpeño es uno de los mejores que encontrarás en la ciudad.
Mil Amores  – Yucatan 34, Roma
Este lugar sí conserva lo bueno, bonito y barato. Con promociones casi todos los días y una estética amigable, es perfecto para comenzar el precopeo desde temprano y en ocasiones, seguir ahí hasta bien entrada la noche.

Bósforo  –  Luis Moya 21, Centro
El centro es uno de los sitios más hermosos de la ciudad. Aquí puedes encontrar restaurantes de lujo en los que empresarios y políticos desayunan, centros culturales y la mejor arquitectura. También puedes encontrar lugares con un arraigo cultural impresionante como Bósforo que no sigue la tradición de los sitios anteriores. No busca brindar experiencias ni ser el referente de la ciudad, sin embargo lo logra gracias al excelente sabor de sus mezcales.
– See more at:

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Comida y Bebida factor imprescindible de la Cultura de la Ciudad de Mexico: Los mejores restaurantes para tener una cena romántica

Origen: Los mejores restaurantes de la Ciudad de México para tener una cena romántica – Cultura Colectiva – Cultura Colectiva

Por Mafer Fernández de Lara diciembre 28, 2015@maferfdlv

México, con sus calles y avenidas, con la belleza de sus antiguas casonas y la infraestructura de sus modernos edificios, esconde entre los ruidos de la ciudad, secretos que le hablan al alma y le invitan a vivir la vida. Es el azul de su cielo y las luces de la noche que han convertido a la Ciudad de México en el lugar perfecto para disfrutar de una cita romántica.
Desde sus centros culturales hasta el encanto de sus parques y deliciosa comida, esta hermosa ciudad, presenta una gran variedad de actividades para sorprender a tu pareja con el esplendor de su diversidad.
Lamentablemente, México se encuentra cada vez más poblado y pareciera que aquellos secretos que solían ser el plan perfecto se han convertido en el punto de encuentro de millones de compatriotas. Existen tantas opciones y todos buscamos ir siempre a la misma. Al parecer la amplia propuesta de lugares simplemente nos impide probar cosas nuevas.
Es entonces que una tarde disfrutando de barrios como la Roma o la Juárez, ya no suena tan divertido e incluso puede parecer como una cita común. Las ideas se agotan y los lugares para visitar han perdido el toque íntimo que se necesita para disfrutar de la perfecta cena con tu pareja. Un restaurante que ofrezca un espacio de tranquilidad a la luz de las velas, buena música y excelente comida puede ser todo lo que necesitas para una cena romántica.
restaurantes cena romantica
Si estás en busca del lugar perfecto para pasar un buen rato con tu pareja, estos son cinco restaurantes que no sólo te encantarán los sentidos con sus hermosas decoraciones y exquisita comida, también te permitirán escapar un rato de la realidad para pasar un hermosa velada con esa persona especial.
Maximo Bistrot  – Tonalá 133, Roma D.F
Si lo que buscas es impresionar a tu pareja, Maximo Bistrot es el lugar perfecto para lograr tu cometido. Este restaurante se encuentra entre los mejores de la Ciudad de México, su ubicación en la Roma te permitirá elegir una mesa en la banqueta para disfrutar de una romántica velada. Su menú cambia diario, así que cada visita te impresionará. Puedes acompañar tus platillos con sus excelentes cervezas artesanales o un buen vino de mesa.

Le mat  –  Emilio Castelar, 149, Polanco.
¿Te gustaría pasar una noche romántica en el escenario perfecto? Pues Le Mat es para ti. La terraza que alberga este restaurante tiene una decoración urbana impresionante, sus cómodas mesas o sillones te invitan a pasar ahí toda la noche. Su comida es una fusión entre lo mexicano y lo francés; el resultado es exquisito. Sin duda la velada será más romántica en este lugar que pareciera transportarte a un maravilloso restaurante europeo.

Macelleria Roma  –  Calle Orizaba 127, Cuauhtemoc, Roma Nte.
Para no dejar de lado la tradicional comida italiana, uno de los mejores lugares para compartir pasta en la ciudad es la Macelleria Roma, sus platillos con un toque casero son exquisitos y la carta es bastante variada. El estilo rústico de su decoración, te hará sentir que disfrutas de una exquisita cena en un pequeño pueblo italiano.
Nuevamente su ubicación te permitirá pasar una romántica noche a la luz de las velas en las mesas de la banqueta. Lo mejor de todo es que abren hasta tarde así que la plática puede durar cuanto tu lo deseas, una opción distinta a la muy conocida comida italiana.

Rosseta  –  Colima 166, colonia Roma
Prepárate para sumergirte en un universo de sabores creados por Elena Reygadas, propietaria del lugar quien fue reconocida este año como la mejor chef de Latinoamérica. Su olor a pan hecho en casa favorece al ambiente romántico del lugar, haciendo de éste, un restaurante ideal para pasar un buen rato con nuestra pareja. Éste, es también una opción de comida italiana casera, sus olores y sabores son inigualables. Su decoración hace del restaurante la elección perfecta para una cena romántica. No dejes de compartir postre con tu pareja pues su lasaña de mango es deliciosa.

99  – Av. Álvaro Obregón 99, Cuauhtemoc, Roma Nte.
No hay nada más romántico que una cita en un lugar inesperado y es que 99 es un restaurante ubicado en un lugar cuya arquitectura enamora además de compartir espacio con un increíble museo. Su comida nace a raíz de la inquietud de Grupo Hunan de abrir un Bistró Mexicano, han desarrollado platillos de las diversas regiones de todo el país que los harán disfrutar de la cena perfecta.

– See more at:

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Comida y Bebida factor imprescindible de la Cultura de la Ciudad de Mexico: Las 50 mejores cantinas para comer

Algunas cantinas esconden historia, otras, secretos jamás contados Te presentamos las 50 mejores cantinas para visitar en México.

Origen: Las 50 mejores cantinas para comer en Ciudad de México
¡Salud y buen provecho!, para decir que el vino y otras bebidas bondadosas han recorrido el tiempo y deambulado en la humedad del cuerpo. ¡Salud y buen provecho!, para decir que mucho se ha hablado de tabernas, cantinas, cervecerías, tendajones, vinaterías, botillerías y pulquerías en esta noble, leal y sicalíptica Ciudad de México. Ciudad de cantera, canto y cantinas”.

Cuenta la leyenda que en 1914,  Franciso Villa incrustó una bala en el techo de La Ópera para intimidar a Emiliano Zapata. También se dice que José Alfredo Jiménez y Chavela Vargas eran clientes cautivos del Salón Tenampa, donde llegaban en el caballo blanco de José Alfredo: “Era nuestra casa, no teníamos otra. Íbamos casi todos los días. Éramos tequileros, desde que llegábamos empezábamos tequileando. Nunca sabíamos la hora en que salíamos ni el porqué; no nos acordábamos de dónde veníamos ni a dónde íbamos”.

Algunas cantinas esconden historia, otras, secretos jamás contados Mucho se dice de las tabernas mexicanas, uno de los espacios donde no sólo se bebe, sino que también se come, a veces gratis, otras barato, pero casi siempre delicioso. Desde cacahuates, sopes y tostadas de ceviche, hasta birria, frijoles charros, carne tártara y pancita. Cada una de las cantinas tiene sus especialidades, ideales para bajar la cruda o comer rico con trago en mano.

Aquí sugerimos 50 cantinas de la Ciudad de México para disfrutar de una buena comida:
1. La trasatlántica (Atenas esq. Abraham González, colonia Juárez)
2. La Ópera (5 de mayo #10, colonia Centro)
3. La No. 1 (Av. Cuauhtémoc #150, Roma Norte)
4. Dos Naciones (Bolívar #58, colonia Centro)
5. El gallo de oro (Venustiano Carranza #35, colonia Centro)
6. La Peninsular (Corregidora #26, colonia Centro)
7. Covadonga (Puebla #121, colonia Roma Norte)
8. El Gran León de Oro (Mercaderes 21, col. San José Insurgentes)
9. La Coyoacana (Higuera 12, Coyoacán)
10. La No. 20 (Andrés Bello #10, Polanco)
mejores cantinas


11. La Potosina
(Jesús María #21, colonia Centro)
12. Río de la plata / El otro río (República de Cuba #39, col. Centro)
13. La Legendaria (República de Uruguay #72, colonia Centro)
14. La casa gallega (Avenida Cuauhtémoc #166, col. Roma Norte)
15. La Luz (Venustiano Carranza #21, colonia Centro)
16. La Riviera del Sur (Chiapas #174, colonia Roma Norte)
17. Cantina México (Avenida Patriotismo #201, col. San Pedro de los Pinos)
18. Salón Tenampa (Plaza Garibaldi #12, colonia Centro)
19. El Puerto de Veracruz (Av Revolución #10-B, colonia Escandón)
20. 5 Caudillos (Av. de La República #127, colonia Tabacalera)
mejores cantinas21. El Afán (Avenida Universidad #575, colonia Narvarte Poniente)
22. La Imperial (Lago Zurich #245, colonia Ampliación Granada)
23. La Antigua de Colón (Antonio Caso #17, Col Tabacalera)              24. La Castellana (Antonio Caso  #58, colonia San Rafael
25. La Ribera (Av. Cuauhtémoc #140, colonia Doctores)
26. La Villa de Sarria (Av. Monterrey #254, Roma Sur)
27. La Vaquita (Mesones #54, colonia Centro)
28. El Dux de Venecia (Av Azcapotzalco #586, Azcapotzalco Centro)
29. La Polar (Circuito Interior #129, colonia San Rafael)
30. La Valenciana (Avenida Universidad #48, colonia Narvarte)
imagenes cantinas31. El Tío Pepe (Independencia #26, colonia Centro)
32. El Negresco (Balderas #76, colonia Centro)
33. La Faena (Venustiano Carranza #49, colonia Centro)
34. Surtidora Don Batiz (Julio Verne #93, Polanco)
35. Montejo (Benjamin Franklin #261-A, colonia Condesa)

36. Buenos Aires (Motolinía #21, colonia Centro)
37. La Única de Guerrero (Guerrero #258. colonia Guerrero)
38. La Mundial (Bolivar #142, colonia Centro)
39. Salón París (Jaime Torres Bodet #152, Cuauhtémoc, colonia Santa María la Rivera)
40. La Ultramarina (Calle Tonala #178, colonia Roma)
mejores cantinas41. La Flor Asturiana (Av. Puente de Alvarado #68, col. Tabacalera)
42. Las Américas (Iturbide #51, colonia Centro)
43. Salón Isabel (Maestro Antonio Caso #44, colonia Tabacalera)
44. La Caminera (Av. Revolución #813, col. Santa María Nonoalco)
45. Salón España (Republica de Argentina #25, colonia Centro)
46. La Reata de Oro (Avenida Patriotismo #272, colonia San Pedro de los Pinos)
47. La caribeña (Ayuntamiento #148, colonia Centro)
48. La Rambla (Av. Cuauhtémoc #12, colonia Doctores)
49. Monteloro Salón (Revillagigedo #52, colonia Centro)
50. Lepanto (Avenida Oaxaca #24, colonia Roma Norte)
mejores cantinas*** – See more at:

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Comida y Bebida factor imprescindible de la Cultura de la Ciudad de Mexico: Los mejores mariscos que tienes que probar 

En el D.F. existen lugares que nos entregan un poco de la nostalgia marina y además, son higiénicos, deliciosos y para varios presupuestos.

Origen: Los mejores mariscos del D.F. que tienes que probar – Cultura Colectiva

Por Julieta Sanguino noviembre 7, 2015@julaiilama

Los mariscos son parte de nuestra cultura, los disfrutamos en el mar y también en las grandes ciudades, porque a través de ellos y de su sabor recordamos un poco de aquel lugar lejano al que anhelamos ir todas las vacaciones: junto a la costa, debajo de una palapa, esperando a que el sol se oculte.
En México, existen distintos modos de prepararlos, desde los tradicionales platillos del norte del Pacífico hasta los encantadores recuerdos nostálgicos del golfo. La ciudad, tan pequeña en territorio y tan grande en población y urbanización, hace que necesitemos decenas de locales que satisfagan nuestro empeño en disfrutar del sabor del mar. Esos lugares que, sabemos, son garantía de sabor, calidad y por supuesto, higiene.
Te presentamos aquellos que cumplen estrictamente con nuestros requisitos y que quisiéramos visitar todas las tardes para recordar la nostalgia del océano.

La Matoza  –  Prolongación Eje 6 Sur 560, Iztapalapa
Este restaurante que nació como un puesto ambulante de Veracruz desde 1955, ahora es uno de los más populares de la ciudad. Tiene su origen a principios de los 80, cuando se ubicaba en la esquina de Rosario y Lorenzo Boturini, muy cerca de la Viga. Tienen quesadillas de jaiba tradicionales, mojarras, filete de robalo, cebiche de caracol y vuelve a la vida con callo de hacha. Sus salsas son una receta secreta de la casa que pretenden jamás revelar. Todo comienza a las 4 de la mañana cuando van de compras para surtir todo lo del día, y hasta acabar el día, no dejan de deleitar a los clientes.
La langosta vieja  –  Av Chapultepec 464, Roma Norte                caldo mariscos
Es un restaurante de mariscos que, aunque en apariencia no se vea tan agradable, tiene de los mejores de la zona. El edificio que lo alberga no es muy agradable, pero la variedad de mariscos lo ha consolidado como uno de los mejores del centro-poniente. Se trata de una vecindad en la que la entrada conduce a un patio con paredes amarillas que lleva a otros interiores decorados que aluden al mar.
Los arcos  –  Torcuato Tasso No. 330, Polanco
mariscos tostadas
Este restaurante nació en Culiacán, Sinaloa, y retoma el nombre del acueducto construido en esa ciudad y que ahora es parte del patrimonio mexicano. Según ellos tienen “la mejor cocina de mariscos de la Costa del Pacífico”, y para comprobarlo sólo debes darte una vuelta y probar algunos platillos. Existen 17 sucursales, pero te recomendamos la de Polanco.
El canto de las sirenas  –  Calz. Melchor Ocampo 69, Tlaxpana
Este lugar es conocido por sus precios extremadamente accesibles y la gran calidad de sus platillos. Todos los días hay mucha gente, pero los domingos, si quieres comer a tiempo, necesitas llegar con al menos una hora de anticipación. El vuelve a la vida es uno de los platillos más ricos en su menú.
El jarocho de las Lomas – Frente a gasolinería Virreyes, Lomas
coctel mariscos
Una marisquería con 36 años de tradición que se llena cada tarde para disfrutar los mejores platillos. Su menú es sencillo, y entre los platos que destacan están los cocteles y vuelve a la vida. La combinación que tú elijas, la cantidad exacta de salsas y aguacates, hacen que este lugar sea uno de los mejores de toda la ciudad. Los jarochos, contrario a lo que el nombre indica, son de Michoacán y su lema es “la calidad es la que habla”.

La Romita  –  Coahuila 185, esq. con Medellin, Roma Norte, DF.
Un pequeño local que abre todos los días, con apariencia bastante común y corriente, es el centro de mariscos más rico de rumbo. Es una marisquería pequeña bastante escondida en la que destacan sus deliciosas empanadas de Marlin o Camarón, con un toque de picante y un aderezo digno de reyes.
Fisher’s                                                                                            mariscos
Uno de los lugares con más tradición y con más éxito en este rubro Igual que muchos lugares de mariscos, empezó como un puesto bastante pequeño cuando Don Simón necesitaba sacar adelante a su familia y abrió un restaurante con tan sólo cuatro mesas. A los siete meses, el local empezó a dejar utilidades. Y no pararon de crecer. Con más de 25 años, Fisher’s ha logrado lo que miles han intentado: triunfar y conservar su esencia.
Don Chava  –  Calz del Hueso 349, Gabriel Ramos Millán   camarones
Unos de los restaurantes con más tradición en el sur. Este lugar se caracteriza por ser uno de los sitios de reunión donde las familias van a escuchar un poco de música tradicional y convivir con la familia. No es caro y el sabor es delicioso.

La cervecería del barrio  –  Durango 192, Roma Norte
sopa mariscos
Este lugar se caracteriza por su gran sabor, en el que los platillos compiten para ser los mejores, los tacos de pastor de marlin, la hamburguesa de camarón o el cebiche de este lugar se convertirán en tus platillos preferidos después de que vayas. Están creciendo mucho y cada vez tienen más sucursales.
King Fish  –  Juan Salvador Agraz 97, Santa Fe                           tostadas camaron
Una terraza lounge nada tradicional que cuenta con exquisitos platillos que incluyen una barra de sushi y platillos de mariscos frescos, con brochetas de camarón o carpaccio de salmón. Puedes disfrutar de una carta de vinos y hasta probar la pizza al horno de este sitio al que no te arrepentirás de ir, sin importar cuán caro parezca.

Añado mis propias recomendaciones personales:

Boca del Rio  – Ribera de San Cosme #42, Col. San Rafael                    Quesadillas de cazón, tacos de pescado, cocteles de mariscos

Deliciosa variedad en pescados y mariscos, con toda la tradición en la gastronomia mexicana del golfo y el pacifico en un ambiente familiar. Calidad desde 1941.

– See more at:


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Como los espacios sin autos, se disfrutan por niños en libertad 

Como espacios Libres de Autos, son disfrutados por niños, en libertad y con seguridad

En vimeo hay muchos videos de otras ciudades y poblaciones con espacios Sin Autos

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Los Conceptos de Shoup en dibujo animado

…there it is.

Origen: An Excellent Animation of Shoup

Este video muestra las consecuencias de una conspiración de las automotrices para distorsionar las prioridades urbanas de dar preferencia y prioridad a las personas a volcarse y someterse a las necesidades de los autos, en perjuicio de la ciudad

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Cuando mas lento es más rápido

Carlos Gershenson

When Slower Is Faster (SIF) acceso al documento pdf

El efecto ‘Cuando más lento es más rápido’ (SlowerIsFaster) aparece cuando un sistema funciona peor cuando sus componentes tratan de ser mejores. Asi, una moderada eficiencia individual en realidad lleva a un mejor desempeño sistémico.

El efecto SIF se da en una diversa variedad de fenómenos. Revisamos estudios y ejemplos del efecto SIF en dinámicas peatonales, tráfico vehicular, control semafórico, logística, transporte publico, dinámicas sociales, sistemas ecológicos, y adaptación. A partir de de estos ejemplos generalizamos aspectos comunes del efecto SIF y sugerimos posibles futuras líneas de investigación.

Carlos Gershenson
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Northeastern University; National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – C3 – Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad


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¡Esta es Nuestra Planeacion! – Plan Director Estratégico de São Paulo

1er lugar en el Concurso Nacional de Cortos sobre el Plan Director Estratégico de São Paulo en Vimeo, muy recomendable.

vía Esse é o Nosso Plano (1º Lugar – Concurso Nacional de Curtas sobre o Plano Diretor Estratégico de São Paulo) on Vimeo.

Muy interesante cortometraje que exhibe las politicas publicas, los conceptos urbanos y las acciones estrategicas propuestas, detras del Plan Director Estratégico de São Paulo. Desgraciadamente esta explicado en Portugues de Brasil y no he encontrado si Vimeo puede hacer una traduccion mas o menos comprensible.

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Areas Verdes y Naturales, Caminabilidad, Competitividad, Densidad y Productividad, Desarrollo Urbano, Economia, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Habitabilidad, Medio Ambiente, Movilidad, Peaton, Planeacion Urbana, Politicas Publicas, Trafico, Transporte, Transporte sostenible, TransportePublico, Urbanismo, Uso de Suelo, Vivienda | Etiquetado , , , | Deja un comentario



Documental sobre las ciudades, vale la pena invertir la hora y fracción en verlo todo.

Publicado en Urbanismo | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Thinking City – blog para discusión de temas urbanos


Thinking City tiene como objetivo ser una plataforma, que reúna discusiones sobre cómo experimentamos ciudades y la promoción de prácticas más incluyentes de (‘placemaking’) hacer lugares significativos

¿Qué se siente y que significa vivir en una ciudad? ¿De qué maneras podemos mejorar nuestra experiencia urbana? Al explorar los impactos sociales y emocionales del entorno edificado, podemos ayudar a co-crear mejores lugares y espacios para todos. Este sitio web es una plataforma para la reflexión y el debate, así como un directorio evolutivo de proyectos, organizaciones y eventos enfocados en pensar sobre y en mejorar la vida urbana. Si quieres escribir sobre un aspecto particular de la experiencia urbana, por favor no deje enviarnos un correo electrónico.

// @thinkingcity


Francesca Perry, Editor // Francesca engages people in collaborative neighbourhood change for make:good. She is also the Community Coordinator for Guardian Cities [views expressed here are her own]. She is a Londoner, a graduate of UCL Urban Lab and a Young Urbanist. Francesca set up Thinking City in 2012.


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La Secreta Historia del Plomo y las Automótrices

Origen: The Secret History of Lead | The Nation

By Jamie Lincoln Kitman March2, 2000La próxima vez que llenes el tanque de tu ‘nave familiar’, chéca esto: Las bombas o dispensadores dicen Sin Plomo. Uno podría racionalmente suponer que dicen eso porque ha sido removido el plomo que naturalmente ocurre en la gasolina. Pero estarías totalmente equivocado. En la gasolina No Hay Plomo a menos que alguien lo ponga en ella. Hace poco mas de setenta y cinco años, algunas de las principales empresas líderes de EUA –General Motors, DuPont y Standard Oil de New Jersey (hoy conocida como Exxon)– fueron ese alguien. Se juntaron y por lucrar, le pusieron plomo, un conocido veneno, a la gasolina.

Lead was outlawed as an automotive gasoline additive in this country in 1986–more than sixty years after its introduction–to enable the use of emissions-reducing catalytic converters in cars (which are contaminated and rendered useless by lead) and to address the myriad health and safety concerns that have shadowed the toxic additive from its first, tentative appearance on US roads in the twenties, through a period of international ubiquity only recently ending. Since the virtual disappearance of leaded gas in the United States (it’s still sold for use in propeller airplanes), the mean blood-lead level of the American population has declined more than 75 percent. A 1985 EPA study estimated that as many as 5,000 Americans died annually from lead-related heart disease prior to the country’s lead phaseout. According to a 1988 report to Congress on childhood lead poisoning in America by the government’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, one can estimate that the blood-lead levels of up to 2 million children were reduced every year to below toxic levels between 1970 and 1987 as leaded gasoline use was reduced. From that report and elsewhere, one can conservatively estimate that a total of about 68 million young children had toxic exposures to lead from gasoline from 1927 to 1987.

How did lead get into gasoline in the first place? And why is leaded gas still being sold in the Third World, Eastern Europe and elsewhere? Recently uncovered documents from the archives of the aforementioned industrial behemoths and the US government, a new skein of academic research and a careful reading of that long-ago period’s historical record, as well as dozens of interviews conducted by The Nation, tell the true story of leaded gasoline, a sad and sordid commercial venture that would tiptoe its way quietly into the black hole of history if the captains of industry were to have their way. But the story must be recounted now. The leaded gas adventurers have profitably polluted the world on a grand scale and, in the process, have provided a model for the asbestos, tobacco, pesticide and nuclear power industries, and other twentieth-century corporate bad actors, for evading clear evidence that their products are harmful by hiding behind the mantle of scientific uncertainty.

This is not just a textbook example of unnecessary environmental degradation, however. Nor is this history important solely as a cautionary retort to those who would doubt the need for aggressive regulation of industry, when commercial interests ask us to sanction genetically modified food on the basis of their own scientific assurances, just as the merchants of lead once did. The leaded gasoline story must also be read as a call to action, for the lead menace lives.


§ the severe health hazards of leaded gasoline were known to its makers and clearly identified by the US public health community more than seventy-five years ago, but were steadfastly denied by the makers, because they couldn’t be immediately quantified;

§ other, safer antiknock additives–used to increase gasoline octane and counter engine “knock”–were known and available to oil companies and the makers of lead antiknocks before the lead additive was discovered, but they were covered up and denied, then fought, suppressed and unfairly maligned for decades to follow;

§ the US government was fully apprised of leaded gasoline’s potentially hazardous effects and was aware of available alternatives, yet was complicit in the cover-up and even actively assisted the profiteers in spreading the use of leaded gasoline to foreign countries;

§ the benefits of lead antiknock additives were wildly and knowingly overstated in the beginning, and continue to be. Lead is not only bad for the planet and all its life forms, it is actually bad for cars and always was;

§ for more than four decades, all scientific research regarding the health implications of leaded gasoline was underwritten and controlled by the original lead cabal–Du Pont, GM and Standard Oil; such research invariably favored the industry’s pro-lead views, but was from the outset fatally flawed; independent scientists who would finally catch up with the earlier work’s infirmities and debunk them were–and continue to be–threatened and defamed by the lead interests and their hired hands;

§ confronted in recent years with declining sales in their biggest Western markets, owing to lead phaseouts imposed in the United States and, more recently, Europe, the current sellers of lead additives have successfully stepped up efforts to market their wares in the less-developed world, efforts that persist and have resulted in some countries today placing more lead in their gasoline, per gallon, than was typically used in the West, extra lead that serves no purpose other than profit;

§ faced with lead’s demise and their inevitable days of reckoning, these firms have used the extraordinary financial returns that lead additive sales afford to hurriedly fund diversification into less risky, more conventional businesses, while taking a page from the tobacco companies’ playbook and simultaneously moving to reorganize their corporate structures to shield ownership and management from liability for blanketing the earth with a deadly heavy metal.

You can choose whether to smoke, but you can’t pick the air you breathe, even if it is contaminated by lead particles from automobile exhaust. Seventy-five years ago, well-known industrialists like GM’s Alfred Sloan and Charles Kettering (remembered today for having founded the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) and the powerful brothers Pierre and Irénée du Pont added to their substantial fortunes and did the planet very dirty by disregarding the common-sense truth that no good can come from burning a long-known poison in internal-combustion engines.

The steady emergence of improved methodology and finer, more sensitive measuring equipment has allowed scientists to prove lead’s tragic toll with increasing precision. The audacity of today’s lead-additive makers’ conduct mounts with each new study weighing in against them. Because lead particles in automobile exhaust travel in wind, rain and snow, which know no national boundaries, lead makers and refiners who peddle leaded gasoline knowingly injure not only the local populations using their product but men, mice and fish tens of thousands of miles distant.

GM and Standard Oil sold their leaded gasoline subsidiary, the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation, to Albemarle Paper in 1962, while Du Pont only cleaned up its act recently, but all hope to leave their leaded gasoline paternity a hushed footnote to their inglorious pasts. The principal maker of lead additive today the Associated Octel Company of Ellesmere Port, England) and its foremost salesmen (Octel and the Ethyl corporation of Richmond, Virginia) acknowledge what they see as a political reality: Their product will one day be run out of business. But they plan to keep on selling it in the Third World profitably until they can sell it no longer. They continue to deny lead’s dangers while overrating its virtues, reprising the central tenets of the lead mythology chartered by GM, Du Pont and Standard lifetimes ago.

These mighty corporations should pay Ethyl and Octel for keeping their old lies alive. They’ll need them, in their most up-to-the-minute and media-friendly fashion: Because of the harm caused by leaded gasoline they have been joined to a class-action suit brought in a circuit court in Maryland against the makers of that other product of lead’s excruciating toxic reign: lead paint. Along with the makers of lead paint and the lead trade organizations with whom they both once worked in close concert, suppliers and champions of lead gasoline additives–Ethyl, Du Pont and PPG–have been named as defendants in the suit.

Though the number of cases of lead poisoning has been falling nationwide, the lead dust in exhaust spewed by automobiles in the past century will continue to haunt us in this one, coating our roads, buildings and soil, subtly but indefinitely contaminating our homes, belongings and food.

The Problem With Lead

Lead is poison, a potent neurotoxin whose sickening and deadly effects have been known for nearly 3,000 years and written about by historical figures from the Greek poet and physician Nikander and the Roman architect Vitruvius to Benjamin Franklin. Odorless, colorless and tasteless, lead can be detected only through chemical analysis. Unlike such carcinogens and killers as pesticides, most chemicals, waste oils and even radioactive materials, lead does not break down over time. It does not vaporize, and it never disappears.

For this reason, most of the estimated 7 million tons of lead burned in gasoline in the United States in the twentieth century remains–in the soil, air and water and in the bodies of living organisms. Worldwide, it is estimated that modern man’s lead exposure is 300 to 500 times greater than background or natural levels. Indeed, a 1983 report by Britain’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded that lead was dispersed so widely by man in the twentieth century that “it is doubtful whether any part of the earth’s surface or any form of life remains uncontaminated by anthropogenic [man-made] lead.” While lead from mining, paint, smelting and other sources is still a serious environmental problem, a recent report by the government’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimated that the burning of gasoline has accounted for 90 percent of lead placed in the atmosphere since the 1920s. (The magnitude of this fact is placed in relief when one considers the estimate of the US Public Health Service that the associated health costs from a parallel problem–the remaining lead paint in America’s older housing–total in the multibillions.)

Classical acute lead poisoning occurs at high levels of exposure, and its symptoms–blindness, brain damage, kidney disease, convulsions and cancer–often leading, of course, to death, are not hard to identify. The effects of pervasive exposure to lower levels of lead are more easily miscredited; lead poisoning has been called an “aping disease” because its symptoms are so frequently those of other known ailments. Children are the first and worst victims of leaded gas; because of their immaturity, they are most susceptible to systemic and neurological injury, including lowered IQs, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, behavioral problems and interference with growth. Because they often go undetected for some time, such maladies are particularly insidious. In adults, elevated blood-lead levels are related to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, particularly strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths. Lead exposure before or during pregnancy is especially serious, harming the mother’s own body, affecting fetal development and frequently leading to miscarriage. In the eighties the EPA estimated that the health damages from airborne lead cost American society billions each year. In Venezuela, where the state oil company sold only leaded gasoline until 1999, a recent report found 63 percent of newborn children with blood-lead levels in excess of the so-called safe levels promulgated by the US government.

The Search for an Antiknock

On December 9, 1921, a young engineer named Thomas Midgley Jr., working in the laboratory of the General Motors Research Corporation in Dayton, Ohio, reported to his boss, Charles Kettering, that he’d discovered that tetraethyl lead–a little-known compound of metallic lead and one of the alkyl series, also referred to as lead tetraethyl or TEL–worked to reduce “knock” or “pinging” in internal-combustion engines.

Tetraethyl lead was first discovered by a German chemist in 1854. A technical curiosity, it was not used commercially on account of “its known deadliness.” It is highly poisonous, and even casual cumulative contact with it was known to cause hallucinations, difficulty in breathing and, in the worst cases, madness, spasms, palsies, asphyxiation and death. Still unused in 1921, sixty-seven years after its invention, it was not an obvious choice as a gasoline additive.

In the laboratories of Charles Kettering, however, the search for a gasoline additive to cure “knock” had been going on for some years prior to Midgley’s rediscovery of TEL. In 1911 Kettering had invented the electric self-starter–a landmark development in automotive history that eliminated dangerous hand-cranking and enabled many Americans (particularly women) to drive for the first time, arguably killing steam and electric cars in the process. This invention would make “Boss” Kettering rich, famous and beloved to a nation falling in love with its wheels. Thanks to the starter, the folksy inventor’s new firm, Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, or DELCO, received its first big order, for $10 million, from the upstart General Motors Corporation, founded only three years earlier by William Crapo Durant.

GM’s 1912 Cadillac was equipped with DELCO’s self-starter and battery ignition. When customers reported that the engine of this luxury automobile had an alarming tendency to knock–a sharp, metallic sound hinting at damage being done inside the engine–critics blamed Kettering’s electrical components.

Kettering was convinced, rightly, that knocking was a function of an engine’s fuel rather than ignition problems. When Kettering and his partners sold DELCO to Durant’s GM and its new partner–Alfred Sloan’s Hyatt Roller Bearings–in 1916, his lab was already engaged in a search for the cure. Following the sale, this work was transferred to his new firm, the Dayton Research Laboratories, where a newly hired assistant, Thomas Midgley, was assigned to study the problem of engine knock.

Stabbing in the dark, Midgley got lucky quickly when he added iodine to the fuel, stopping knock in a test engine and establishing for all time that the malady–premature combustion of the fuel/air mixture–was connected to the explosive qualities of the fuel, what would later be called “octane.” Iodine raised octane and cured knock; however, it was corrosive and prohibitively expensive. Inspired by the fundamental breakthrough, Midgley nonetheless carried on with fuel research, testing every substance he could find for antiknock properties, “from melted butter and camphor to ethyl acetate and aluminum chloride.” Unfortunately, “most of them had no more effect than spitting in the Great Lakes.”

The Antiknock That Got Away

Automotive engineers knew by this time that engines that didn’t knock would not only operate more smoothly. They could also be designed to run with higher compression in the cylinders, which would allow more efficient operation, resulting in greater fuel economy, greater power or some harmonious combination of the two. The key was finding a fuel with higher octane. Though octane sufficient for use in high-compression engines had been achievable since 1913 through a process called thermal cracking, the process required added expenditures on plant and equipment, which tightfisted oil refiners didn’t relish. The nation’s fuel supply remained resolutely low grade, a situation that troubled Kettering.

By limiting allowable compression, low-octane fuel meant cars would be burning more gasoline. Like many visionary engineers, Kettering was enamored of conservation as a first principle. As a businessman, he also shared persistent fears at the time that world oil supplies were running out. Low octane and low compression meant lower gas mileage and more rapid exhaustion of a dwindling fuel supply. Inevitably, demand for new automobiles would fade.

By 1917 Kettering and his staff had trained their octane-boosting sights on ethyl alcohol, also known as grain alcohol (the kind you drink), power alcohol or ethanol. In tests supervised by Kettering and Midgley for the Army Air Corps at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, researchers concluded that alcohols were among the best antiknock fuels but were not ideal for aircraft engines unless used as an additive, in a blend with gasoline. This undoubtedly led Kettering to concur with an April 13, 1918, Scientific American report: “It is now definitely established that alcohol can be blended with gasoline to produce a suitable motor fuel.”

The story of TEL’s rise, then, is very much the story of the oil companies’ and lead interests’ war against ethanol as an octane-boosting additive that could be mixed with gasoline or, in their worst nightmare, burned straight as a replacement for gasoline. For more than a hundred years, Big Oil has reckoned ethanol to be fundamentally inimical to its interest, and, viewing its interest narrowly, Big Oil might not be wrong. By contrast, GM’s subsequent antipathy to alcohol was a profit-motivated attitude adjustment. Alcohol initially held much fascination for the company, for good reason. Ethanol is always plentiful and easy to make, with a long history in America, not just as a fuel additive but as a pure fuel. The first prototype internal-combustion engine in 1826 used alcohol and turpentine. Prior to the Civil War alcohol was the most widely used illuminating fuel in the country. Indeed, alcohol powered the first engine by the German inventor Nicholas August Otto, father of the four-stroke internal-combustion engines powering our cars today. More important, by the time of Kettering’s antiknock inquiry, alcohol was a proven automotive fuel.

As the automobile era picked up speed, scientific journals were filled with references to alcohol. Tests in 1906 by the Department of Agriculture underscored its power and economy benefits. In 1907 and 1908 the US Geological Survey and the Navy performed 2,000 tests on alcohol and gasoline engines in Norfolk, Virginia, and St. Louis, concluding that higher engine compression could be achieved with alcohol than with gasoline. They noted a complete absence of smoke and disagreeable odors.

Despite many attempts by Big Oil to stifle its home-grown competitor (one time-honored gambit: lobbying legislators to pass punitive taxation thwarting alcohol’s economic viability), power alcohol would number among its adherents several highly regarded inventors and scientists, including Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Henry Ford built his very first car to run on what he called farm alcohol. As late as 1925, after the advent of TEL, the high priest of American industry would predict in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor that ethanol–“fuel from vegetation”–would be the “fuel of the future.” Four years later, early examples of his Model A car would be equipped with a dashboard knob to adjust its carburetor to run on gasoline or alcohol.

Ethanol made a lot of sense to a practical Ohio farm boy like Kettering. It was renewable, made from surplus crops and crop waste, and nontoxic. It delivered higher octane than gasoline (though it contained less power per gallon), and it burned more cleanly. By 1920, as Kettering was aware, a US Naval Committee had concluded that alcohol-gasoline blends “withstand high compression without producing knock.”

Higher compression was, after all, what the GM men were after. In February 1920, shortly after joining General Motors’ employ, Thomas Midgley filed a patent application for a blend of alcohol and cracked (olefin) gasoline, as an antiknock fuel. Later that month K.W. Zimmerschied of GM’s New York headquarters wrote Kettering, observing that foreign use of alcohol fuel “is getting more serious every day in connection with export cars, and anything we can do toward building our carburetors so they can be easily adapted to alcohol will be appreciated by all.” Kettering assured him that adaptation for alcohol fuel “is a thing which is very readily taken care of” by exchanging metal carburetor floats for lacquered cork ones. GM was concerned (albeit temporarily) about an imminent disruption in oil supply, and alcohol-powered cars could keep its factories open. An internal GM report that year stated ominously, “This year will see the maximum production of petroleum that this country will ever know.”

Ethanol on the March

In October 1921, less than two months before he hatched leaded gasoline, Thomas Midgley drove a high-compression-engined car from Dayton to a meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Indianapolis, using a gasoline-ethanol blended fuel containing 30 percent alcohol. “Alcohol,” he told the assembled engineers, “has tremendous advantages and minor disadvantages.” The benefits included “clean burning and freedom from any carbon deposit…[and] tremendously high compression under which alcohol will operate without knocking…. Because of the possible high compression, the available horsepower is much greater with alcohol than with gasoline.”

After four years’ study, GM researchers had proved it: Ethanol was the additive of choice. Their estimation would be confirmed by others. In the thirties, after leaded gasoline was introduced to the United States but before it dominated in Europe, two successful English brands of gas–Cleveland Discoll and Kool Motor–contained 30 percent and 16 percent alcohol, respectively. As it happened, Cleveland Discoll was part-owned by Ethyl’s half-owner, Standard Oil of New Jersey (Kool Motor was owned by the US oil company Cities Service, today Citgo). While their US colleagues were slandering alcohol fuels before Congressional committees in the thirties, Standard Oil’s men in England would claim, in advertising pamphlets, that ethanol-laced, lead-free petrol offered “the most perfect motor fuel the world has ever known,” providing “extra power, extra economy, and extra efficiency.”

For a change, the oil companies spoke the truth. Today, in the postlead era, ethanol is routinely blended into gasoline to raise octane and as an emissions-reducing oxygenate. Race cars often run on pure ethanol. DaimlerChrysler and Ford earn credits allowing them to sell additional gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles by engineering so-called flex-vehicles that will run on clean-burning E85, an 85 percent ethanol/gasoline blend. GM helped underwrite the 1999 Ethanol Vehicle Challenge, which saw college engineering students easily converting standard GM pickup trucks to run on E85, producing hundreds of bonus horsepower. Ethanol’s technical difficulties have been surmounted and its cost–as an octane-boosting additive rather than a pure fuel–is competitive with the industry’s preferred octane-boosting oxygenate, MTBE, a petroleum-derived suspected carcinogen with an affinity for groundwater that was recently outlawed in California. With MTBE’s fall from grace, many refiners–including Getty, which took out a full-page ad in the New York Timescongratulating itself for doing so–returned to ethanol long after it was first developed as a clean-burning octane booster.

Enter Du Pont

In 1919 GM purchased Kettering’s Dayton research laboratory. The following year the company installed him as vice president of research of the renamed General Motors Research Corporation.

No longer the shambling, anarchic outfit it had been under the inveterate risk-taker W.C. Durant, GM was now to be run in the militarily precise mold of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company of Wilmington, Delaware. Awash in a sea of gunpowder profits from World War I, the du Pont family had been increasing its stake in GM since 1914. By 1920 it controlled more than 35 percent of GM shares and moved to pack the board, installing professional management, with the du Pont faction taking control of the corporation’s all-powerful finance committee.

Caught short by a margin call in the recession of 1920, Durant, GM’s colorful founder, lost his stake and was forced by the du Pont family to walk the plank (he would spend his final days running a bowling alley). One of the clan’s craftiest patriarchs, Pierre du Pont, was coaxed from retirement and named GM’s interim president; Alfred Sloan, who had demonstrated the coldhearted allegiance to the bottom line the du Ponts revered, became executive vice president preparatory to assuming the top slot. The pressure on all concerned, including Kettering and his research division, was to make money and to make it fast.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, Sloan wrote to Kettering in September of 1920, alerting him to the du Ponts’ new math: “Although [the Research Corporation] is not a productive unit and a unit that is supposed to make a profit, nevertheless the more tangible result we get from it the stronger its position will be…. It may be inferred at some future time…that we are spending too much money down there [in Dayton] and being in a position to show what benefits had accrued to the corporation would strengthen our position materially.”

That time would come soon enough for Kettering to deliver. An air-cooled engine he’d championed–copper-cooled, he called it–would soon prove a costly disaster for GM. Fortunately for him, immediately after joining GM he had given his trusted assistant Midgley two weeks to find something to ignite the new management’s interest in funding continued fuel research. Though it would take somewhat longer than two weeks to fire their masters’ enthusiasm, “Midge” succeeded.

And the Winner Is…

The effect of this sudden time constraint was striking. As GM researcher and Kettering biographer T.A. Boyd noted in an unpublished history written in 1943, Midgley’s main research in 1919-20 had been to make alcohols out of olefins found in petroleum through reactions with sulfuric acid. (Farm alcohol was one thing, but a patentable process for production of petroleum-derived alcohol–a possible money-maker–was quite another, one of considerably greater interest to the corporation.) “But in view of the verdict setting a time limit on how much further the research for an antiknock compound might continue,” Boyd said, “work was resumed at once in making engine tests of whatever further compounds happened to be available on the shelf of the lab…or which could be gotten readily.”

As noted earlier, Midgley tested many compounds before isolating tetraethyl lead in December 1921. In the early days, he would attribute the discovery of TEL’s antiknock properties to “luck and religion, as well as the application of science.” In a 1925 magazine article, he would recall false trails with iodine, aniline, selenium and tellurium before hitting upon lead. Curiously, his article omitted any reference to the alcohol-gasoline blend he’d patented just five years earlier.

Another oddity: The exact number of compounds tested prior to TEL’s discovery varies dramatically in different accounts. As Professor William Kovarik of Radford University has observed, confusion reigns in part because the lab’s day-to-day test diaries have never been released to the public by the General Motors Institute (GMI) archive. In the words of one archivist there, GM’s lead archives have been “sanitized.” One 1925 article in the Literary Digest put the number at 2,500 compounds tested, while The Story of Ethyl Gasoline, a 1927 pamphlet released by a company Midgley would help found, states that 33,000 were studied. Another time, he claimed 14,991 elements were examined, while a 1980 Ethyl corporation statement set the number at 144. This question is important because GM’s discovery of lead’s antiknock properties, which initially caused little internal excitement, would be hailed in popular media and later cited in polytechnical texts as a model of rational, orderly scientific inquiry that sought the single best answer to the knock question. A more realistic view of events is that TEL’s re-emergence in the twenties was the result of a crude empirical potshot that was understood to promise a landslide of earnings over time.

Apprised of Midgley’s discovery that one part TEL could be used to fortify 1,000 parts of gasoline, Kettering proposed the name “Ethyl” for the new antiknock fluid, a mild irony in light of both men’s longtime–and soon to fade–interest in ethyl alcohol. At researcher Boyd’s suggestion Ethyl was dyed red. There was as yet, however, no plan to market Ethyl. Indeed, in July 1922, seven months after TEL’s discovery, J.W. Morrison of the GM Patent Department would encourage Midgley to “see if the U.S. Industrial Alcohol Co. have opened a valuable line of research. Mr. Clements [the lab manager at GM] stated some time ago that it might be worth our while to carry our investigations further on the problem of utilizing alcohols in motors. I think he mentioned specifically combinations of alcohol and gasoline.”

From the corporation’s perspective, however, the problems with ethyl alcohol were ultimately insurmountable and rather basic. GM couldn’t dictate an infrastructure that could supply ethanol in the volumes that might be required. Equally troubling, any idiot with a still could make it at home, and in those days, many did. And ethanol, unlike TEL, couldn’t be patented; it offered no profits for GM. Moreover, the oil companies hated it, a powerful disincentive for the fledgling GM, which was loath to jeopardize relations with these mighty power brokers. Surely the du Pont family’s growing interest in oil and oil fields, as it branched out from its gunpowder roots into the oil-dependent chemical business, weighed on many GM directors’ minds.

In March 1922, Pierre du Pont wrote to his brother Irénée du Pont, Du Pont company chairman, that TEL is “a colorless liquid of sweetish odor, very poisonous if absorbed through the skin, resulting in lead poisoning almost immediately.” This statement of early factual knowledge of TEL’s supreme deadliness is noteworthy, for it is knowledge that will be denied repeatedly by the principals in coming years as well as in the Ethyl Corporation’s authorized history, released almost sixty years later. Underscoring the deep and implicit coziness between GM and Du Pont at this time, Pierre informed Irénée about TEL before GM had even filed its patent application for it.

The Rise of Tetraethyl Lead

With the application filed, the groundwork was laid for manufacture of TEL. An October 1922 agreement contracted Du Pont to supply GM. Signing for GM was Pierre du Pont; signing for Du Pont: his brother Irénée. Manufacturing began in 1923 with a small operation in Dayton, Ohio, that made 160 gallons of tetraethyl lead a day and shipped it out in one-liter bottles, each of which would treat 300 gallons of gasoline.

In February 1923 the world’s first tankful of leaded gasoline was pumped at Refiners Oil Company, at the corner of Sixth and Main streets, in Dayton, Ohio, from a station owned by Kettering’s friend Willard Talbott. But four months earlier, an agitated William Mansfield Clark, a lab director in the US Public Health Service, had written A.M. Stimson, assistant Surgeon General at the PHS, warning that Du Pont was preparing to manufacture TEL at its plant in Deepwater, New Jersey. It constituted a “serious menace to public health” he stated, with reports already emerging from the plant that “several very serious cases of lead poisoning have resulted” in pilot production.

Clark additionally speculated that widespread use of TEL would mean “on busy thoroughfares it is highly probable that the lead oxide dust will remain in the lower stratum.” Estimating that each gallon of gasoline burned would emit four grams of lead oxide, he worried that this would build up to dangerous levels along heavily traveled roads and in tunnels.

Stimson was troubled enough by Clark’s letter to request that the PHS’s Division of Pharmacology conduct investigations; unfortunately, the division’s director responded, such trials would be too time-consuming. He suggested that the PHS rely upon industry to supply the relevant data, a spectacularly poor plan that would amount to government policy for the next forty years.

Perhaps spurred by Clark’s missive and Stimson’s concern, in December 1922 the US Surgeon General, H.S. Cumming, wrote Pierre du Pont: “Inasmuch as it is understood that when employed in gasoline engines, this substance will add a finely divided and nondiffusible form of lead to exhaust gases, and furthermore, since lead poisoning in human beings is of the cumulative type resulting frequently from the daily intake of minute quantities, it seems pertinent to inquire whether there might not be a decided health hazard associated with the extensive use of lead tetraethyl in engines.”

But the Good News Is…

The year 1923 did not begin well, then, for supporters of tetraethyl lead. In January, on account of lead poisoning, Thomas Midgley was forced to decline speaking engagements at three regional panels of the American Chemical Society, which had awarded him a medal for his discovery. “After about a year’s work in organic lead,” he wrote, “I find that my lungs have been affected and that it is necessary to drop all work and get a large supply of fresh air.” He repaired to Miami.

Before leaving town, Midgley penned a reply to Cumming’s letter, which had been passed on to him by Pierre du Pont. Although the question “had been given very serious consideration,” he wrote, “…no actual experimental data has been taken.” Even so, Midgley assured the Surgeon General, GM and Du Pont believed that “the average street will probably be so free from lead that it will be impossible to detect it or its absorption.” In other words, TEL, the deadly chemical curiosity, was being brought to market without any thought or study as to its public health implications, but rather on the hopeful hunch of a clever mechanical engineer who had just been poisoned by lead.

Around this time, Midgley had also begun to receive letters expressing grave concern over TEL from well-known public health and medical authorities at leading universities, including Robert Wilson of MIT, Reid Hunt of Harvard, Yandell Henderson of Yale (America’s foremost expert on poison gases and automotive exhaust) and Dr. Erik Krause of the Institute of Technology, Potsdam, Germany. Krause called TEL “a creeping and malicious poison,” and he told Midgley it had killed a member of his dissertation committee. Charles Kettering may have been concerned by this growing chorus of TEL critics, but the early months of 1923 saw his mind preoccupied with another matter. In May of that year, after four costly years of development, Kettering’s beloved copper-cooled engine was abandoned as a production program, a high-profile embarrassment within the company and the larger automotive community. “It was then,” wrote Kettering’s research assistant and biographer, T.A. Boyd, some years later, “that his spirits reached the lowest point in his research career.”

The abject failure of the copper-cooled engine led the fiercely proud Kettering to believe his personal capital in the company had been terminally depleted. “Since this thing with the Copper-Cooled Car has come up,” he wrote Alfred Sloan (who became GM’s president in 1923), “the Laboratory has been practically isolated from Corporation activities.” Kettering’s shame was so enormous that he tendered his resignation in a letter to Sloan. “I regret very much that this situation has developed. I have been extremely unhappy and know that I have made you and Mr. du Pont equally unhappy…. work here at the Laboratory, I realize, has been almost 100% failure, but not because of the fundamental principles involved. Enough may come out of the Laboratory to have paid for their existence but no one will care to continue in Research activities as the situation now stands.”

‘My Dear Boss’

Sloan declined to let Kettering go. But America’s most famous automotive engineer after Henry Ford emerged with a renewed sensitivity to the profit-making needs of his corporation. In this regard, TEL held out an immediate lifeline. Writing Kettering from Florida in March 1923, Midgley related a mad brainstorm whose relevance had now become fully clear to Kettering. “My dear boss,” he began, “The way I feel about the Ethyl Gas situation is about as follows: It looks as though we could count on a minimum of 20 percent of the gas sold in the country if we advertise and go after the business–this at three cent gross to us from each gallon sold. I think we ought to go after it as soon as we can without being too hasty.”

Midgley barely scratched the surface of the wealth to come. With a legal monopoly based on patents that would provide a royalty on practically every gallon of gasoline sold for the life of its patent, Ethyl promised to make GM shareholders–among whom the du Ponts, Alfred Sloan and Charles Kettering were the largest–very rich. Profit-free ethanol, indeed. As Kovarik has calculated: “With gasoline sales [in 1923] around six billion gallons per year, 20 percent would come to about 1.2 billion gallons, and three cents gross would represent $36 million. With the cost of production and distribution running less than one cent per gallon of treated gasoline, more than two thirds of the $36 million would be annual gross profit. Of course, within a decade 80 percent of the then 12 billion gallon market used Ethyl, for an annual gross of almost $300 million.”

The fears of excessive hastiness expressed in Midgley’s letter were evidently allayed. In April 1923, one month after he’d performed his riveting calculations, the General Motors Chemical Company was established to produce TEL, with Charles Kettering as president and Thomas Midgley as vice president.

Octane, the Motorist’s Friend

Beginning in 1921, GM’s executive committee began to articulate the first principles that would come to be known as Sloanism–that is, planned obsolescence and product differentiation through speed, power, style and color; “a car for every purse and purpose,” as Sloan was fond of saying.

Between 1922 and the end of the decade, Sloan and his GM associates would devise marketing strategies that would see GM overtake Ford as the world’s largest automobile manufacturer and set the tone for the next fifty years of American automotive consumption. Central to this growth would be an awareness that consumers were no longer looking merely for basic transportation, which was the stock in trade of Ford’s beloved Model T. In addition to consumer financing (which Ford opposed), Sloan was convinced that style, snob appeal and speed would help GM steal its customers away. He was right.

Following the failure of his copper-cooled engine, Kettering rejigged his arguments for TEL for internal–definitely not public–consumption. As it happened, the new additive could be fitted neatly into the Sloanist equation. For while it was initially seen by Kettering and his staff as a way to cure knock and to husband fossil-fuel supplies, the high compression it enabled in motors was just as easily exploited to make cars faster and more powerful, thus easier to sell. Alan Loeb, a former EPA attorney and lead historian who has examined the period closely, has neatly summed up Kettering’s conversion: “By 1923…it was clear that Kettering’s original purpose for the antiknock research had given way to GM’s desire to improve auto performance without regard for its effect on fuel economy…. Kettering did not give up on efficiency and conservation as his own ideals, but ever after he knew better than to try to push a product that would not sell. In later years, even as Kettering’s advocacy of conservation became more and more public, it represented GM’s true motive less and less.”

Tellingly, Ethyl’s earliest advertisements dealt solely with speed and power and invariably neglected to mention its active ingredient: lead. Boasted a September 1927 ad that ran in National Geographic: “As an Ethyl user, you have the benefits of greatly increased speed, more power on hills and heavy roads. Quicker acceleration and complete elimination of ‘knock.’ But the real high compression automobile is here at last! Ethyl gasoline has made it possible! Ride with Ethyl in a high compression motor and get the thrill of a lifetime.”

With the advent of the Depression in the thirties, Ethyl’s advertising nodded to the economic realities of the day but still focused on power. An ad that ran in February 1933 contains a Norman Rockwell-esque portrait of a small boy who is complaining to his embarrassed father, “Gee, Pop–they’re all passing you.” The accompanying text rubs it in. “They didn’t pass you when your car was bright and new–and you still don’t like to be left behind. So just remember this: the next best thing to a brand new car is your present car with Ethyl.”


With the formation of the GM Chemical Company, work on a large-scale Du Pont TEL plant began immediately. Irénée du Pont hailed his company’s technical director, W.F. Harrington: “It is essential that we treat this undertaking like a war order so far as making speed and producing the output, not only in order to fulfill the terms of the contract as to time but because every day saved means one day advantage over possible competition.”

Significantly, GM’s patent on TEL would have covered any threat from competing makers of lead additive. Thus, as Kovarik has reasoned, the competition referred to must have been from those who would have offered a different kind of antiknock. GM, Du Pont and TEL’s other backers would long publicly claim there were no conceivable alternatives to the lead antiknock additive. But the facts were otherwise. Ethanol was still out there. And GM negotiated throughout the twenties with Germany’s I.G. Farben over an additive it made from iron carbonyl. Then, in August 1925, Kettering himself joyously announced “Synthol,” a blended automotive fuel of benzene and alcohol that promised to “double gas mileage.” There was, as we shall see, an unexpected–and momentary–business need for Synthol. The point is, there were alternatives.

In a public relations coup, Ethyl leaded gasoline fueled the top three finishers at the Indianapolis 500 motor race on Memorial Day, 1923. With demand skyrocketing, Kettering signed exclusive contracts with Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), Standard Oil of Indiana (later Amoco, more lately merged with BP) and Gulf Oil (owned by the Mellon interests) for East Coast, Midwest and Southern distribution, respectively, of leaded gasoline.

Tetraethyl Death

In August, Du Pont’s TEL plant opened at Deepwater, New Jersey, across the Delaware River from Wilmington. Less than thirty days would pass before the first of several TEL poisoning deaths of workers there would occur. Not surprisingly, given Du Pont’s stranglehold on all local media within its domain along the Delaware, the deaths went unreported.

Even so, news of these and similar deaths would inevitably come out. Realizing that its own medical research would be less than credible then, and having been turned down by reputable academics and the Public Health Service in its search for consultants to help “refute any false propaganda,” GM hurriedly contracted the US Bureau of Mines in September 1923 to explore the dangers of TEL. Even by the lax standards of its day, the bureau was a docile corporate servant, with not an adversarial bone in its body. It saw itself as in the mining promotion business, with much of its scientific work undertaken in collaboration with industry. The bureau’s presumptive harmlessness notwithstanding, to its written agreement with GM was nonetheless added a remarkable proviso, that the bureau “refrain from giving out the usual press and progress reports during the course of the work, as [GM] feels that the newspapers are apt to give scare headlines and false impressions before we definitely know what the influence of the material will be.”

Indicative of the bureau leadership’s fundamental outlook was an exchange between the superintendent of its Pittsburgh field station, where the TEL investigation was being conducted, and the bureau’s chief chemist, S.C. Lind. By letter, Lind had objected to the use of the trade name “Ethyl” when referring to tetraethyl lead gasoline.

“Of course their [GM officials] object in doing so is fairly clear, and among other things they are not particularly desirous of having the name ‘lead’ appear in this case. That is alright from the standpoint of the General Motors Company but it is quite a question in my mind as to whether the Bureau of Mines would be justified in adopting this name so early in the game.”

The superintendent replied that omission of “the use of the word ‘lead’ in the interbureau correspondence” was intentional to prevent leaks to the papers. “If it should happen to get some publicity accidentally, it would not be so bad if the word ‘lead’ were omitted as this term is apt to prejudice somewhat against its use.”

Indeed, lead had acquired a bad name by 1920, as scientific and public awareness of its supreme deadliness as an occupational and pediatric hazard was increasing. Then, in April 1924, two GM employees engaged in the manufacture of TEL at a pilot plant in Dayton also died of lead poisoning. Large numbers of nonfatal poisonings were noted at this time. Thomas Midgley was said to be “depressed to the point of considering giving up the whole tetraethyl lead program.” But Kettering, emerging from his copper-cooled funk, wouldn’t slow down. Two months later, he would urge Du Pont to step up production. At the same time, seeking even greater control over Bureau of Mines test results, GM stipulated that “all manuscripts, before publication, will be submitted to the Company for comment and criticism.

By any measure, the TEL constituency had experienced a run of rum luck, and in June 1924 GM president Sloan, “gravely concerned about the poison hazard” and deaths at TEL plants in Dayton and Deepwater, approved the formation of a medical committee, with J. Gilman Thompson, consulting physician to Standard Oil of New Jersey (which had been marketing Ethyl and dabbling in its manufacture), as chairman. Summing up the gloomy feeling all around at this time, Du Pont chairman Irénée du Pont wrote Sloan at GM that TEL “may be killed by a better substitute or because of its poisonous character or because of its [destructive] action on the engine.”

Following its investigation, GM’s medical committee delivered what was apparently a negative and highly cautionary report on TEL. But Irénée du Pont, having undergone some sort of conversion or, possibly, having remembered his family’s lifelong devotion to profit at any cost, wrote Sloan on August 29, 1924, and told him not to worry: “I have read the doctors’ report and am not disturbed by the severity of the findings.” Another product his firm made–nitroglycerin–was even more hazardous to make, du Pont added breezily, while lead dust from car exhaust was but nothing compared to erosion from lead paint. Years later, this would become a major plank of TEL supporters’ defense.

For some unknown reason, the report of Sloan’s blue-ribbon medical committee, like many original documents referenced in GM reports on TEL, is not available in the company’s public archives.

Hello, Ethyl

Meanwhile, Standard Oil of New Jersey had developed a faster, cheaper method of synthesizing TEL. In August 1924 production began in a makeshift works at its Bayway plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey. GM still held the TEL patent, but Standard now had the better manufacturing technology and a patent of its own to prove it.

To the apparent surprise of some at Du Pont, which had not been producing the fluid fast enough for GM’s liking, the oil company (one of twenty-seven companies formed by the 1911 breakup of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust) and the automobile company formed a joint venture, which they called the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation. Why, one wonders, would GM deign to form Ethyl, a new company, with Standard? “In the first place,” Sloan would testify in a 1952 antitrust suit, “I recognized that General Motors’ organization had no competence whatsoever in chemical manufacture. We were mechanical people dealing in metal processing.” The deaths at Dayton would certainly support this modest assessment. Sloan would also later record his view that management should not get sidetracked on noncore businesses. But there were clearly bushels of money to be made. Sloan had by now fully cottoned to an essential fact about his company’s new lead additive patent. As the management expert P.F. Drucker described it many years later, “GM, in effect, made money on almost every gallon of gasoline sold, by anyone.”

In one of its first official acts, the newly formed Ethyl Gasoline Corporation evinced renewed sensitivity to spin (not to mention a justifiably elevated level of paranoia) by insisting that its contract with the Bureau of Mines be modified yet again, to reflect that “before publication of any papers or articles by your Bureau, they should be submitted to them [Ethyl] for comment, criticism, and approval.” Thus, as the public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz have observed, the newly formed Ethyl Corporation was given “veto power over the research of the United States government.”

Death by Loony Gas

Du Pont would supply most of Ethyl’s TEL requirements for years to come, but, according to a letter written by Alfred Sloan to Irénée du Pont in the fall of 1924, in an accommodation to Standard Oil that firm had been permitted to maintain a small “semiworks” at its Bayway refinery. Later, Du Pont engineers would express serious reservations about the safety of Standard’s facility. An internal 1936 Du Pont history would recount that the company was “greatly shocked at the manifest danger of the equipment and methods [and] at the inadequate safety precautions” at the Standard facility, but their suggestions were “waved aside.” Unfortunate it was.

On October 26, 1924, the first of five workers who would die in quick succession at Standard Oil’s Bayway TEL works perished, after wrenching fits of violent insanity; thirty-five other workers would experience tremors, hallucinations, severe palsies and other serious neurological symptoms of organic lead poisoning. In total, more than 80 percent of the Bayway staff would die or suffer severe poisoning. News of these deaths was the first that many Americans heard of leaded gasoline–although it would take a few days, as the New York City papers and wire services rushed to cover a mysterious industrial disaster that Standard stonewalled and GM declined to delve into.

Confusion and panic marked the headlines, with reporters forced to travel to New Jersey to track a story they’d probably have noted in a lightly rewritten press release if Standard had appeared more forthcoming. On October 30, days after the first Bayway death, the press was at last invited to Standard’s New York City headquarters for an afternoon session of long-overdue, professionally crafted spin control. Thomas Midgley had been rushed to 26 Broadway from Dayton and would address the corps. But first, Standard’s medical consultant, J. Gilman Thompson, presented them with a typewritten statement, supplying the company’s most sculpted telling of recent history yet:

[TEL’s] recently discovered use for greatly promoting the efficiency of gasoline engines has led to its manufacture on a commercial scale through processes still more or less in a stage of development. This has occasioned unforeseen accidents…. One of these has been the sudden escape of fumes from large retorts, and the inhalation of such fumes gives rise to acute symptoms, particularly congestion of the brain, producing a condition not unlike delirium tremens. Although there is lead in the compound, these acute symptoms are wholly unlike those of chronic lead poisoning such as painters often have.
“There is no obscurity whatever about the effects of the poison and characterizing the substance as ‘mystery gas’ or ‘insanity gas’ is grossly misleading.

Asked to assess their liability to families of men who said they were not warned of the dangers, Standard Oil officials said “the rejection of many men as physically unfit to engage in the work of the Bayway plant, daily physical examinations, constant admonitions as to wearing rubber gloves and using gas masks and not wearing away from the plant clothing worn during work hours should have been sufficient indication to every man in the plant that he was engaged ‘in a man’s undertaking.’”

The falsity and cruelty of Standard’s position were manifest, the ironies rife. First, Standard wasn’t in experimental production. It was making TEL to sell. Second, its stony silence alone had led to stories in the press about a “mystery” gas, because reporters learned that TEL had been dubbed “loony gas” from Bayway workers whom they interviewed after being brushed off by the company brass. Finally, the escapes of gas weren’t sudden, as claimed, but ongoing, the poisoning cumulative. The doctors at Reconstruction Hospital had told the Herald Tribune that violent insanity was “brought on by the gradual infiltration of lead in their systems.”

The day’s true highlight, however, would be Midgley’s presentation. The celebrated engineer and Ethyl VP, who had only recently been forced to leave work to recover from lead poisoning, proposed to demonstrate that TEL was not dangerous in small quantities, by rubbing some of it on his hands. Midgley was fond of this exhibition and would repeat it elsewhere, washing his hands thoroughly in the fluid and drying them on his handkerchief. “‘I’m not taking any chance whatever,’ he said. ‘Nor would I take any chance doing that every day.’” The New York World cited unbelievable dispatches from Detroit claiming that Midgley “frequently bathed” in TEL to prove its safety to skeptics within the industry.

Ethyl Adrift

The response of local governments and public health officials to the Bayway disaster was swift and stern. The day of Midgley’s peculiar demonstration, the New York City Board of Health banned the sale of TEL-enhanced gasoline, saying that “such mixtures of gasoline, containing lead or other deleterious substances, may be liable to prove detrimental and dangerous to the health and lives of the community, particularly when released as exhaust from motor vehicles.” Within a matter of days Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the State of New Jersey would ban gasoline containing the lead additive. Ethyl would continue to be sold in the Midwest, but elsewhere on the East Coast its use was unofficially discouraged by authorities.

In early November 1924, after the fifth Bayway worker died, the Bureau of Mines study on TEL was released (remember that GM and then Ethyl had reserved for themselves the right to approve the timing of its release). Not surprisingly, the bureau’s report, based on limited animal testing it had conducted, gave the substance a clean bill of health. The New York Times, which had decided as editorial policy to support the use of TEL, served up just the sort of front-page headline Ethyl hoped for: “No Peril to Public Seen in Ethyl Gas/Bureau of Mines Reports after Long Experiments with Motor Exhausts/More Deaths Unlikely.”

Yandell Henderson of Yale and others assailed the Bureau of Mines study as a hopelessly shoddy investigation financed by an interested party, Ethyl, and bemoaned Washington’s antiregulatory climate. The bureau had “investigated the danger to the public of acute lead poisoning,” he noted derisively,

and had failed even to take into account the possibility that the atmosphere might be polluted to such an extent along automobile thoroughfares that those who worked or lived along such streets would gradually absorb lead in sufficient quantities to poison them in the course of months….
Perhaps if leaded gasoline kills enough people soon enough to impress the public, we may get from Congress a much-needed law and appropriation for the control of harmful substances other than foods. But it seems more likely that the conditions will grow worse so gradually and the development of lead poisoning will come on so insidiously (for this is the nature of the disease) that leaded gasoline will be in nearly universal use and large numbers of cars will have been sold that can run only on that fuel before the public and the Government awaken to the situation….
This is probably the greatest single question in the field of public health that has ever faced the American public. It is the question whether scientific experts are to be consulted, and the action of Government guided by their advice, or whether, on the contrary, commercial interests are to be allowed to subordinate every other consideration to that of profit.

Echoing the fears of PHS lab director William Clark more than two years earlier, Henderson had clearly isolated the greatest threat of leaded gasoline–not the severe cases of industrial poisoning that had grabbed the headlines but the slow, unrelenting low-level exposure that was sure to occur as the use of leaded gasoline spread. As we shall see, the industry would use this dichotomy–accidental deaths at the plant versus insidious poisoning–to its advantage. The former risk could be acknowledged because it could be prevented, while the latter was doubted, denied and endlessly debated.

In years to come, the federal government would do much to help the lead interests actively across a variety of fields, but the greatest assistance offered was an act of omission: a signal failure to arrange for independent examination of the effects of automotive lead emissions on the public health. By 1924 the government’s allegiance and probity were already in question. As C.W. Deppé, owner of the Lilliputian Deppé Motors, put it in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, Hubert Work: “May I be pardoned if I ask you frankly now, does the Bureau of Mines exist for the benefit of Ford and the G.M. Corporation and the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, and other oil companies parties to the distribution of the Ethyl Lead Dopes, or is the Bureau supposed to be for the public benefit and in protection of life and health?”

Enter the Surgeon General

Three months after the Bayway disaster, a grand jury acquitted Standard Oil of criminal responsibility for the tragedy despite the fact that, as the New York Timesstated in summarizing the grand jury’s findings: “The report found that the deaths were directly due to poisoning…[and] recommended that before it resumes operations the company try to perfect some machinery by which ethyl gas can be manufactured without endangering life.”

This was good news for Ethyl’s backers, but strangely at variance with the views of Standard’s own partners. As Du Pont’s internal history of 1936 concluded: “Notwithstanding…foreknowledge at the peril, the precautions taken in the small manufacturing operation at Bayway were grossly inadequate.” And GM took a dim view of the Standard operation as well. Ferris Hurd, a GM attorney testifying in the government’s 1953 antitrust suit against Du Pont, summarized events:

[Standard] put up a plant that lasted two months and killed five people and practically wiped out the rest of the plant. The disaster was so bad that the state of New Jersey entered the picture and issued an order that Standard could never go back into the manufacture of [tetraethyl lead] without the permission of the state of New Jersey. In fact, the furor over it was so great that the newspapers took it up, and they misrepresented it, and instead of realizing that the danger was in the manufacture, they got to thinking that the danger was exposure of the public in the use of it, and the criticism of its use was so great that it was banned in many cities and they had to close down the manufacture and sale of Ethyl.

Of course, there was a danger to the public in the use of Ethyl, but the public wouldn’t know it for decades, thanks in large part to the institutional inability and temperamental disinclination of the federal government at this time to do anything more than smile upon new technologies and corporate incursions into new and lucrative markets. The wave of publicity surrounding the Bayway disaster had left Ethyl on the defensive, however. The company knew it would be up to government to set matters right.

A Gift of God?

Today business school students carefully analyze the corporate response to the scare caused by a small batch of tainted Tylenol and widely hail it as a work of genius. Yet it was nothing compared with Ethyl’s road back from disaster, skillfully negotiated with a product that was a deadly poison from the get-go. Ethyl, to use the modern argot, had an aggressive plan and made it stick. You might say it was one of the most brilliant exercises in co-branded damage control ever.

For on Christmas Eve, 1924, Charles Kettering, Frank Howard of Standard and Du Pont chief engineer W.F. Harrington paid a private visit to Surgeon General Hugh Cumming to request that the Public Health Service hold public hearings on TEL. Cumming readily agreed. As Du Pont’s private history of 1936 would note, “In the prevailing state of strong prejudice and excited fears, the new industry was fortunate in having the question of the health risk in the use of tetraethyl lead actively taken up…by the US Public Health Service.”

On May 4, 1925, in an act exquisitely timed and brilliantly crafted to the right tone of seriousness for the proceedings, Ethyl publicly withdrew its product from the market. On May 20 eighty-seven participants convened in the Butler Building at Third and B Streets, in Washington, DC, along with a dozen reporters, for the Surgeon General’s conference. Conspicuously absent was Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, whose agency was charged with oversight of the PHS. Nowhere was it reported that Mellon family interests controlled Gulf Oil, which had recently acquired an exclusive Ethyl distributorship.

At the hearing, Standard’s Frank Howard (soon to be an Ethyl director) uttered the memorable pronouncement that TEL was “a gift of God” that conscience and the march of human progress compelled GM to exploit.

Our problem is not that simple. We cannot quite act on a remote probability. We are engaged in the General Motors Corporation in the manufacture of automobiles, and in the Standard Oil Company in the manufacture and refining of oil. On these things our present industrial civilization is supposed to depend. I might refer to the comment made at the end of the war–that the Allies floated to victory on a sea of oil–which is probably true….
Now as a result of some 10 years’ [sic] research on the part of The General Motors Corporation and 5 years’ research by the Standard Oil Co., or a little bit more, we have this apparent gift of God–of 3 cubic centimeters of tetraethyl lead–which will permit that gallon of gasoline…to go perhaps 50 percent further…
What is our duty under the circumstances? Should we throw this thing aside? Should we say, ‘No, we will not use it,’ in spite of the efforts of the government and the General Motors Corporation and the Standard Oil Co. toward developing this very thing, which is a certain means of saving petroleum? Because some animals die and some do not die in some experiments, shall we give this thing up entirely?
Frankly, it is a problem that we do not know how to meet. We cannot justify ourselves in our consciences if we abandon the thing. I think it would be an unheard-of blunder if we should abandon a thing of this kind merely because of our fears. Possibilities cannot be allowed to influence us to such an extent as that in this matter.

(Many years later, Howard would be forced to relinquish his Standard post by the Federal Trade Commission for collaborating with Nazi Germany, but he would retain his seat at Ethyl.)

Ethyl sales manager A.S. Maxwell got even more carried away, telling a reporter that engines would run so efficiently with leaded gas that GM was developing an engine that “will triple the best mileage a gallon of gasoline will give today.” Actually, while the high compression Ethyl permitted–like ethanol or any octane booster–might have offered fuel-economy benefits, average fuel economy in the United States fell steadily from 1925, the year of Ethyl’s introduction, through the seventies, when cars shrank and unleaded fuel became the standard. In 1974 GM’s corporate average fuel economy had fallen to a near-comical 12.2 miles per gallon. By 1987, after unleaded became predominant and catalytic converters a standard, the sales/registered-fleet average for cars sold in the United States had climbed to 27.3 miles per gallon. Yet TEL defenders to this day cite conservation as its key benefit.

The Conference Adjourns

America’s automotive population was multiplying exponentially, yet the Surgeon General’s conference spent six hours and forty-five minutes deliberating on what Yandell Henderson had prophetically called “probably the greatest single question in the field of public health that has ever faced the American public” and reached no conclusion. Instead, it voted unanimously on a motion by Dr. Matthias Nicoll, New York State Commissioner of Health, to place the question of tetraethyl lead in the hands of Cumming and a seven-member committee of experts to be appointed by him, with orders to report back by January 1, 1926. And it commended Ethyl for withdrawing its product while the question of its effect on the public health was still unsettled.

Awkwardly for Ethyl, soon after the conference ended but months before the Surgeon General’s newly impaneled committee could complete its study, details emerged about eight more TEL-related deaths and more than 300 injuries at Du Pont’s sinister Deepwater plant. Six square miles that lit up the sky at night, Deepwater was one of the country’s most active ports, yet it was nowhere to be found on nautical maps. Often referred to publicly by Du Pont as a dye works, it was rather a complex of poison-gas works, producing phosgene and chlorine gases as well as the lethal benzol series. Deepwater had no legal government–just Du Pont and its private police force. Dismissing the deaths, a Du Pont spokesman said at the time, “It is a fact that we have a great deal of trouble inducing the men to be cautious. We have to protect them against themselves.” (You can still see Deepwater today at the southern end of the New Jersey Turnpike, but it stopped producing TEL in the nineties.)

Happily for the du Ponts and the other lead interests, on January 19, 1926, the special committee appointed by Surgeon General Cumming found “no good grounds” for prohibiting the sale of Ethyl gasoline: “So far as the committee could ascertain all the reported cases of fatalities and serious injuries in connection with the use of tetraethyl lead have occurred either in the process of manufacture of this substance or in the procedures of blending and ethylizing.”

The committee reviewed the evidence of studies it had conducted in Ohio on 252 workers exposed to lead in their occupations as chauffeurs and garage men. While the committee noted “a greater storage of lead in the bodies of those exposed to ethyl gasoline” and lead in the dust of garages dispensing ethyl, nothing conclusive could be established in the short time given to it. So, although the newspapers would miss the distinction–the New York Times, for instance, headlined it “Report: No Danger in Ethyl Gasoline”–the committee had merely concluded that TEL could be manufactured without the loss of life. It did not give tetraethyl lead a clean bill of health or settle the question of its effect on the public health. In fact, it cautioned:

It remains possible that if the use of leaded gasolines becomes widespread, conditions may arise very different from those studied by us which would render its use more of a hazard than would appear to be the case from this investigation. Longer experience may show that even such slight storage of lead…may lead eventually in susceptible individuals to recognizable or to chronic degenerative diseases of a less obvious character….
In view of such possibilities the committee feels that the investigation begun under their direction must not be allowed to lapse…. The vast increase in the number of automobiles throughout the country makes the study of all such questions a matter of real importance from the standpoint of public health, and the committee urges strongly that a suitable appropriation be requested from Congress for the continuance of these investigations under the supervision of the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service.

While proposing that the sale of leaded gasoline should go forward, regulated by the Surgeon General, the committee passed a resolution calling on the Public Health Service to conduct further studies. Separately, the president of the Society of Automotive Engineers called for additional investigations concerning lead’s possible relation to sterility. And the American Chemical Society, which might have been supposed a lockstep supporter of Ethyl, proposed around this time that increased governmental regulation over chemicals “is a subject worthy of further discussion.”

Thus, even the industry’s paid scientists were uneasy about the use of lead in gasoline. Yet none of these calls for further government action were ever acted upon, and it was this failure that gave Ethyl its opening. The PHS never conducted the studies, the Surgeon General never lobbied Congress to pay for them and, for the next forty years, all research on TEL’s health impact would be underwritten by GM, Standard Oil, Du Pont, Ethyl and lead-industry trade associations. With the credulity-stretching statement of an Ethyl spokesman that the only purpose of GM and Standard Oil–“two of the largest units in the automobile and oil industry”–was “to conserve a vital natural resource,” the company welcomed the committee’s report as total vindication. “We plan to resume operations,” Ethyl announced without delay the day of the report’s release. In May 1926, one year after the sale of TEL-laced gasoline was suspended, signs appeared in gas stations: “Ethyl is back.”

But There Is No Alternative

Misrepresenting the Surgeon General’s committee report findings and glossing over its call for further study, Ethyl medical consultant Robert Kehoe recalled in a 1928 article the government’s abdication of its charge: “As it appeared from [the committee’s] investigation that there was no evidence of immediate danger to the public health, it was thought that these necessarily expensive studies should not be repeated at present, at public expense, but that they should be continued at the expense of the industry most concerned, subject, however, to the supervision of the Public Health Service.” His own study, Kehoe wrote unsurprisingly, failed to “show any evidence for the existence of such hazards.”

Others were less sanguine about the committee’s report and Kehoe’s summary of the evidence. Committee member Dr. David Edsall, dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health, called the report incomplete and “half-baked.” C.E.A. Winslow of Yale recommended that “the search for an investigation of antiknock compounds be continued intensively with the object of securing effective agents containing less poisonous metals (such as iron, nickel, tin, etc.) or no metals at all.” Winslow unsuccessfully sought to have the committee mention alternatives to TEL in its final report, forwarding this recommendation to the PHS, along with correspondence from the Ford Motor Company. One letter to Winslow, which is missing from the PHS files in the National Archive but present in his Yale University archive, dated August 15, 1925, reads:

Alcohols for motor fuel

Further to my letter of June 19th:

You may probably have observed the production of synthetic alcohol as brought by the Badische Anilin and Soda Fabrik [BASF of I.G. Farben], now being produced in Germany at the rate of 60,000 gallons per month. Such alcohol is reported to be produced for between 10 cents and 20 cents per gallon and has much promise as a mixture with hydrocarbon [gasoline] fuels to eliminate knocking and carbonization.

[signed] Wm. H. Smith, Ford Motor Co.

Surgeon General Cumming was not interested in alternatives to lead, even though proof of their existence ought to have immediately thrown the veracity of all Ethyl utterances into question. Speaking in August 1925, for instance, Thomas Midgley had told a meeting of scientists, “So far as science knows at the present time, tetraethyl lead is the only material available which can bring about these [antiknock] results, which are of vital importance to the continued economic use by the general public of all automotive equipment, and unless a grave and inescapable hazard rests in the manufacture of tetraethyl lead, its abandonment cannot be justified.”

Midgley had conveniently overlooked his earlier, high-profile endorsement of ethanol, as would Kettering and the entire US press corps. Kettering was also forgetting Synthol, the octane-boosting alternative he had publicized just months earlier when it looked like Ethyl might be forced to close shop. With the government’s de facto seal of approval in hand for TEL, Kettering never again mentioned Synthol. Summarizing his remarks before the Surgeon General’s committee, the New York Times reported: “The experience of the company does not offer any promise that any such cheap and efficient anti-knock can be discovered to replace the lead.”

Uncle Sam Lends a Hand

Far from heeding his committee’s call for the initiation of further studies on the effects of widespread use of tetraethyl lead, the Surgeon General thrust himself quickly into the role of international cheerleader for Ethyl’s lead gasoline additive. In 1928 England’s Daily Mail quoted British scientists voicing fear over the potential public health hazard posed by TEL, which was soon to be introduced to the British market by the Anglo-American oil company brand Pratt’s. Ethyl’s new president, Earle Webb, apprised Surgeon General Cumming of this development and received a warm, familiar response. “Your courtesy in keeping us informed of such developments is helpful and I am grateful for its continuance,” Cumming replied, before contacting the British ministry.

Soon thereafter, England’s Ministry of Health would give TEL a clean bill of health, referring to American findings. This would be hard to jibe with a soon-to-be-published report in the British Medical Journal on “the slow, subtle, insidious saturation of the system by infinitesimal doses of lead extending over a long period of time,” but Cumming wasn’t through yet.

Foreshadowing years of sterling service on behalf of Ethyl, the Surgeon General, the nation’s highest-ranking medical officer, would put pen to paper again in 1928, encouraging New York City sanitary officials to lift the city’s ban on the use of TEL-laced gasoline. “There are no good grounds” for the ban, he implored them. In 1931 Cumming would further assist Ethyl’s overseas marketing efforts. Cabling the PHS offices from an international conference in Paris, the Surgeon General directed his minions to send the Swiss minister of health favorable reports on Ethyl.

In 1932 the du Pont family would temporarily shift party allegiance and support to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential bid with a sizable contribution to his campaign fund. The Democratic Administration was swift to return the favor. A year after FDR’s inauguration, the Surgeon General would busy himself writing letters of introduction for Ethyl officials to public health counterparts in foreign countries.

“This will introduce you to Mr. E.W. Webb, President of the Ethyl Gasoline Corp.” the letters began. Cumming helpfully assured recipients that Webb had consulted with the PHS and that the PHS had found Ethyl an excellent product and given it a clean bill of health. He also fired off missives advancing Ethyl’s cause with pesky state legislatures and public health authorities in the United States who were erecting regulatory hurdles.

By 1936 Ethyl fluid would be added to 90 percent of gasoline sold in America–a resounding commercial success. But even this would not be enough. Responding to a complaint lodged by Ethyl that year, the Federal Trade Commission issued a restraining order preventing competitors from criticizing leaded gasoline in the commercial marketplace. Ethyl gasoline, the FTC order read, “is entirely safe to the health of motorists and the public…and is not a narcotic in its effect, a poisonous dope, or dangerous to the life or health of a customer, purchaser, user or the general public.” The FTC’s action on Ethyl’s behalf came in the wake of an ad by the makers of unleaded Cushing Gasoline, who meekly proposed, “It stands on its own merits and needs no dangerous chemicals–hence you can offer it to your customers without doubt or fear.”

Ethylized Science

Dr. Robert Kehoe of the University of Cincinnati, Ethyl’s chief medical consultant, would express the opinion following the inconclusive 1926 report of the Surgeon General’s committee (of which he was a member) that there was no basis for concluding that leaded fuels posed any health threat whatsoever. And while it is true that tetraethyl lead’s opponents could point in 1924 to no exact scientific test of leaded gasoline emissions as incontrovertible proof of their hazards, there was a large body of evidence, dating back 3,000 years, that lead is poison.

Though the principals must surely have been aware of this historical evidence, it will suffice to recap merely a few of the contemporaneous scientific descriptions of lead’s poisonous effects. In 1910, for instance, Alice Hamilton completed a ground-breaking and widely reported study of the lead industries for the State of Illinois, finding pervasive worker poisoning and conditions markedly worse than in European industry. In 1914 Americans Henry Thomas and Kenneth Blackfan detailed pediatric lead-poisoning death in the case of a boy who ate white-lead paint bitten off a crib railing. By 1921, the year of Midgley’s discovery of TEL as an octane-boosting gasoline additive, the weight of the evidence was such that America’s National Lead Company, sworn enemy of the antilead movement, was forced to admit grudgingly that its product was indeed a poison, in all its many forms (e.g., carbonate of lead, lead oxides and sulfate and sulfide of lead). The following year, the League of Nations would recommend banning white-lead paints for interior use on health grounds, as many European countries had already done. Establishing a pattern of tolerance for this most dangerous element, the United States declined to adopt the league’s resolution.

The bankruptcy of TEL supporters’ medical opinion was exposed at the time byYandell Henderson and others. Harvard’s Dr. Edsall testified at the Surgeon General’s conference:

For 100 years and more observations have been made as to the effect of having a noteworthy amount of lead dust around in any occupation…. It is not a question, then, whether there is or is not a hazard…. I am disposed to believe that the hazard is a noteworthy one. How severe I am not prepared to say. The only way in which one can determine how serious it is would be through a very large number of extremely carefully carried-out observations as to what the effects are upon a large number of human beings.

By 1928, emboldened by a refreshingly compliant government and TEL’s effective victory before the Surgeon General, National Lead and St. Joseph’s Lead would form the Lead Industries Association to take back the ground ceded with National Lead’s 1921 admission. “Of late the lead industries have been receiving much undesirable publicity,” LIA reminded its members, as if it had forgotten in the intervening years that its product was a deadly poison. For years to come, the LIA, on whose board Du Pont and Ethyl officers served, would carefully gather, fund, support and disseminate propaganda supporting its pro-lead views, fighting all who would stand in its way. This disinformation, along with the lack of an adequate regulatory framework and the expense and difficulty of scientifically proving lead’s insidious impact–bought manufacturers of lead paint and lead gasoline more than fifty years of unjust deserts.

The Kehoe Rule

Ethyl president Earle Webb once listed Robert Kehoe as one of three men without whom Ethyl could not have done what it did, and surely this must be so. Hired by Kettering in 1924 on behalf of GM to study hazards of TEL manufacturing plants, the young toxicologist quickly demonstrated the unerring instinct for pleasing one’s masters that guarantees one employment of a more lasting nature. In 1925 he was appointed chief medical consultant of the Ethyl Corporation and remained in the post until his retirement in 1958. But it was in Kehoe’s day job, as the outspoken director of the Kettering Laboratory–founded with an initial $130,000 gift from GM, Du Pont and Ethyl at the University of Cincinnati, where the lead industry paid Kehoe’s salary for half a century–that he really rose to the challenge of promoting TEL. Against Kehoe’s lab and decades of its pseudo-science, the general and unfunded concerns of the public health community were doomed for close to fifty years.

As Kehoe told a Senate committee with rare accuracy in 1966, “at present, this [Kettering] Laboratory is the only source of new information on this subject [occupational and public health standards for lead] and its conclusions have a wide influence in this country and abroad in shaping the point of view and the activities, with respect to this question, of those who are responsible for industrial and public hygiene.” Working on Ethyl’s behalf and as a consultant to the lead industry until shortly before his death in 1992, at 99, Kehoe put in exceptionally good innings. (His lab would also certify the safety of the refrigerant Freon, subject of another environmentally insensitive GM patent that would earn hundreds of millions before it was outlawed.)

Summing up the findings of a lifetime, Kehoe told Congress that he and his colleagues “had been looking for 30 years for evidence of bad effects from leaded gasoline in the general population and had found none.” The credibility of his research had already been undercut and would soon be destroyed. But for many years, Kehoe’s findings had been vouched for by semi-private organizations, including the American Public Health Association and the American Medical Association. Although they never undertook to investigate or independently verify his findings, their lap-dog approvals served to bulk up the scholarship in a field that was sparsely scholared.

Kehoe’s central belief–criticized by medical authorities from Yale, Harvard and Columbia at the Surgeon General’s original 1925 conference and thoroughly discredited today, though still embraced by the lead-additive industry–was that lead appeared naturally in the human body; that the high blood-lead levels his test subjects exhibited were normal and healthy. In fact, independent researchers later realized, Kehoe’s control patients–the ones who wouldn’t be exposed to leaded gas in his studies–were invariably already saturated with lead, which had the effect of making exposed persons’ high lead load appear less worrisome. Such later findings confirmed the assertions of Yandell Henderson and others who criticized Kehoe’s methodology in 1925 before the Surgeon General’s conference. Harvard’s Dr. Edsall had reminded the Surgeon General, “In spite of what Dr. Kehoe has just said, I think that his work will have to be neglected for the reason that the finding of lead in such a large proportion of control people means that however carefully these observations were made there was something wrong technically.”

Late in his career, Kehoe contended that lead levels in gasoline could–and should–be raised.

In recent years, a new generation of academics has singled out Robert Kehoe as the father of a rule, or paradigm, of profound importance, one that was to govern American industry and its parade of hazardous products for much of the twentieth century. By relying on what Jerome Nriagu of the University of Michigan has called the cascading uncertainty rule (“There is always uncertainty to be found in a world of imperfect information”), the lead industry and makers and marketers of TEL gasoline additives were able to argue in 1925: “You say it’s dangerous. We say it’s not. Prove us wrong.” (Or, as Nriagu prefers, “Show me the data.”) They still do.

As a result, Ethyl had its cake and ate it, several times. If the company’s substance checked out as safe, then it would have been shown to have behaved responsibly. If not, it would take an eternity to prove, during which time the company could keep challenging test results and calling for more data. “Both possible outcomes,” the historian Alan Loeb has written, “accommodated Ethyl. The general public was dealt all the risk and Ethyl and its owners were insulated from responsibility. To the extent that there was a health consequence, the Kehoe rule placed the burden upon the public.”

In the past fifty years, nuclear power, tobacco, chemical, asbestos, coal, pesticide and automobile interests have adopted strategies similar to the one developed by Kehoe. Clutching most of the technology and all of the research capital in their own hands, they’ll say “Prove us wrong, and we’ll change.” But confronted with damning evidence, they’ll repeatedly challenge the methodology of the studies or the bias of researchers. All of which takes time. When these defenses fail, the whole notion of extrapolating from test results on animals might be questioned. As Professor Herbert Needleman of the University of Pittsburgh has observed, because toxins are not tested on humans, this effectively means that no agent can ever be demonstrated as toxic to industry’s satisfaction.

Today, application of the Kehoe Rule has special meaning, as multinational corporations seek to introduce myriad genetically engineered crops and products prior to rigorous independent scientific testing. Once again, the burden of proof is being subtly shifted to the doubters, with the entire world cast in the role of guinea pig. In 1925 Haven Emerson, a Columbia professor of public health and former New York health commissioner, said of the TEL experience, “Up to the present time we have almost invariably got our first inkling of a new industrial chemical hazard by some human catastrophe… it seems rather pitiable in a country of such wealth in means and knowledge that we had to wait for a series of human catastrophes to develop the demand for a series of animal experiments.”

Lead Paint vs. Lead Gas

Working alongside Kehoe at first was the Lead Industries Association. Formed primarily to fight restrictions on the use of lead paint, the LIA was also ready to serve as a sort of all-purpose lead-issue obfuscator. Though it wouldn’t fund much actual research, the LIA would underwrite the original studies at Harvard in the twenties that isolated a new pseudo-psychological malady named “pica,” the so-called unnatural impulse of some small children, mostly nonwhite, to stick lead paint chips in their mouths.

Much to LIA’s chagrin, Kehoe would break ranks with them on the subject of lead paint, judging their product indefensible in light of all small children’s tendency to put things in their mouths. Coming from the lead-happy Kehoe, this was a grim diagnosis indeed. Happily for the doctor, in 1958 LIA and the former American Zinc Institute founded another industry advocacy group, the International Lead Zinc Research Organization, with an eye to promoting global use of the lead additive in fuel and protecting makers of cadmium, the toxic zinc relation often found in batteries. Kehoe and Ethyl would find a happier home at ILZRO, which would fund the occasional scientific study. Dr. Paul Mushak, visiting professor of pediatric toxicology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told The Nation that the industry has tended to underwrite research toward the margins of relevant issues, so as to avoid discovering something it might not like.

Kehoe’s split with LIA and the lead-paint camp was, oddly, beneficial for both parties. Ever since, the lead-paint and lead-gasoline interests have been able to point the finger at one another when assessing their own responsibility for the global lead-pollution problem, buying more time to sell their products and more time to distance themselves from potential liability.

Ethyl Changes Hand

By the late thirties Ethyl had sewed up the US market, as noted, and was making major inroads in Europe. After World War II, Third World markets would begin to be opened. On the surface things looked pretty good for the company, which by now had blanketed the earth with its “gift of God.” As “The Ethyl Story,” an insert in the Ethyl corporation’s annual report for 1963, observed with enthusiasm, “today, lead alkyl antiknock compounds are used in more than 98 percent of all gasoline sold in the United States and in billions of gallons more sold in the rest of the world. Leaded gasoline is available at 200,000 service stations in this country and thousands of others around the globe.”

Strange it was, then, that in 1962 GM and Standard suddenly dumped the Ethyl Corporation on the market. Even more surprising to many was the buyer, the tiny Albermarle Paper Manufacturing Company of Richmond, Virginia, and the structure of the deal: It was the modern world’s first recorded leveraged buyout. Albemarle, owned by the Gottwald family, had acquired Ethyl, eighteen times its size, with $200 million of borrowed money, making the front page of the New York Times. “It was like a Mom and Pop grocery buying the A&P!” remarked an incredulous Monroe Jackson Rathbone, Standard Oil of New Jersey’s president, after presumably taking a back seat in the negotiations.

No one who’s talking knows why GM wanted out of Ethyl in 1962. Ethyl’s official historian notes dryly that profits were flat in the late fifties. The company’s TEL patents had expired in 1947, and this allowed Nalco, PPG and Houston Chemical to get into the TEL game on the back of Ethyl’s yeoman work. But Ethyl was still the 800-pound gorilla in the tetraethyl arena; overall, profits were pleasingly plump and Ethyl’s annual reports were upbeat. A more important factor may have been the sense that antitrust was in the air, with the du Pont family being ordered by the government during this period to divest billions in GM shares. Ethyl’s incestuous paternity and its unseemly relations with Nazi Germany during World War II were reasons to avoid closer scrutiny by a nosy government. And, just perhaps, GM might have known something heavy was coming.

Ethyl’s new owners would, in fact, soon find themselves staring at more worrisome smoke signals than a patch of duff profits. In July 1943 the Los Angeles Times reported the city’s first major smog episode. In 1950 Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit reported that the interaction of hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX) caused smog in Los Angeles. By 1953 automobiles would be identified as the region’s largest source of hydrocarbons. Though they may or may not have known it in 1962, the makers of TEL would soon be staring down the barrel of a gun–the anti-air pollution movement.

American auto makers saw the threat that air pollution posed to their business. In the mid-fifties they’d concluded a formal but secret agreement among themselves to license pollution-control technologies jointly and not publicize discoveries in the area without prior approval of all the signatories, a pre-emptive strike against those who would pressure them to install costly emissions controls. The effect of their pact would be to stifle the development of these much-needed devices and technologies. When their agreement came to the Justice Department’s attention in 1969, the fallout from the exposure of their perfidy and mounting awareness of the nation’s out-of-control smog problem would guarantee passage of air-pollution laws that would eventually put lead out of business in America. By this time, the legislative mood had changed as it pertained to the automobile, fueled in large measure by the work–and persecution, by GM–of a young lawyer and Congressional aide named Ralph Nader, who, after raising serious questions about auto safety, had been followed and harassed by GM’s private detectives.

Crucially, too, by 1969 the entire Kehoe view of natural human lead burdens had been knocked out–with one punch–by Dr. Clair Patterson, a California Institute of Technology geochemist. A onetime member of the Manhattan Project, Patterson is widely credited with giving us our most accurate estimate of the earth’s age–4.55 billion years. With the publication in 1965 of his seminal work, “Contaminated and Natural Lead Environments of Man,” in the Archives of Environmental Health, the scientific world had its hardest proof ever that high background lead levels in industrial lands were man-made and endemic. Noticing heavy planetary lead contamination in the process of establishing the age of the planet, Patterson detailed how industrial man had raised his lead burden 100 times and levels of atmospheric lead 1,000 times. Kehoe’s rule of error ended in a flash.

Kehoe held his head high in his remarks to Edmund Muskie’s Congressional clean air subcommittee in 1966, but Patterson had turned him into an academic train wreck. Unlike Kehoe, Patterson utilized state-of-the-art methods to avoid subject contamination with background lead. Analyzing the 1,600-year-old bones of pre-Columbian humans, he showed that the twentieth-century human lead burden was seriously elevated. Though Patterson’s work was widely hailed by the scientific community (it was the reason Kehoe was humored, rather than respected, by the Muskie committee), the paper earned the professor a visit from representatives of the Ethyl corporation, who, in Patterson’s words, tried to “buy me out through research support that would yield results favorable to their cause.”

Instead of joining forces with Ethyl, Patterson delivered a lecture assailing the company’s activities and predicting the demise of their TEL operation. Following these events, his longstanding contract with the Public Health Service was not renewed, nor was a substantial contract with the American Petroleum Institute. Members of the board of trustees at Cal Tech leaned on the chairman of his department to fire him. Others have alleged that Ethyl offered to endow a chair at Cal Tech if Patterson was sent packing.

In January 1969 the four major US auto companies and their trade association–along with seven manufacturers of trucks and cabs, listed as co-conspirators–were accused by the Justice Department of conspiracy to delay development and use of devices to control air pollution from cars, based on their secret agreement. Though they would settle the government’s suit in September by agreeing to terminate their compact as well as all joint research, publicity or lobbying on emissions issues, Detroit’s position vis-à-vis air pollution had been severely compromised. Ethyl was on its own now, and it was fair and easy game to take the fall.

On January 14, 1970, GM president Ed Cole announced to a flabbergasted audience the company’s intention to meet pending clean-air laws with catalytic converters beginning in 1974. Attached to automotive exhaust systems, these devices trap many harmful emissions. However, the catalysts’ active element, platinum, is expensive, a real problem when it is rendered instantly inoperative (and the car undrivable) by the lead in “ethylized” gasoline. Farewell, then, leaded gasoline.

Ethyl was livid. As an authorized corporate biographer wrote some years later, “Here was General Motors, which had fathered the additive, calling for its demise! And it struck some people as incongruous–not to use a harsher word–for General Motors to sell half of what was essentially a lead additive firm for many millions and then to advocate annihilation of the lead antiknock business.”

“‘Get the lead out’ has become a slogan in every household,” Lawrence Blanchard Jr., an Ethyl exec, complained. “I still stay awake some nights trying to figure out how we got into this mess.”

Big Lead Fights Back

Tetraethyl lead was no longer GM’s concern. Nor was it the concern of other auto makers, who followed suit announcing that they too would adopt the catalyst to meet ever-tightening federal emissions standards. Du Pont and Ethyl, on the other hand–along with a ragtag bunch of cheapskate oilmen who hoped to avoid upgrading their refineries to produce unleaded gasoline of sufficiently high octane–still cared a lot about American sales of TEL. When the EPA launched the first of several halfhearted attempts to begin removing lead from gasoline, lead’s corporate affinity group fought back with a ferocity that bespoke major arrogance and even greater desperation. No sooner had the EPA announced a scheduled phaseout, setting a reduced lead content standard for gasoline in 1974, than it was sued by Ethyl and Du Pont, who claimed they had been deprived of property rights. In that same year, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit set aside the EPA’s lead regulations as “arbitrary and capricious.”

Ethyl had argued that “actual harm” must be shown, not just “significant risk,” before their product could be outlawed, and the panel agreed. That Ethyl could make the argument at all was a troubling reminder that the executive and legislative branches of the United States government had signally failed to heed the Surgeon General’s committee’s original request for funding in 1926 for more independent research, leaving the driving, scientifically speaking, to Robert Kehoe.

In 1976 the full United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit overturned the decision against the EPA, finding that “significant risk” was adequate foundation for the agency’s action against lead and within its authority. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, a longtime Ethyl director when he was a Virginia corporate lawyer, didn’t need to recuse himself, as the Court refused to hear an appeal brought by TEL makers Ethyl, Du Pont, Nalco and PPG, as well as the National Petroleum Refiners Association and four oil companies. Ethyl’s excitable Blanchard lashed out, “The whole proceeding against an industry that has made invaluable contributions to the American economy for more than fifty years is the worst example of fanaticism since the New England witch hunts in the Seventeenth Century.”

Fighting on the beaches and fighting on the seas, an impassioned Ethyl wasn’t going to go down easy, urging a reprieve for leaded fuel at a 1979 meeting of the Petrochemical Energy Group. Soon after, the company’s oil industry amigos would sound the alarm for a mysterious “octane crisis” on account of an alleged increase in competition for aromatics, crude oil components that are mainstays of the plastics and synthetics businesses, as well as unleaded gasoline octane boosters. To combat the crisis, they requested an EPA slowdown on the gradual phaseout of lead. The petrochemical industry–led by Du Pont, Monsanto and Dow–would simultaneously launch an intensive lobbying campaign to delay the scheduled lead phaseout, charging, in a reminiscent tack, that the newly discovered dearth of aromatics “threatens the jobs of the 14 million Americans directly dependent and the 29 million Americans indirectly dependent on the petrochemical industry for employment.”

The ever-hopeful lead cabal’s dreams were cruelly dashed in early 1982, after word leaked out of Vice President George Bush’s Task Force on Regulatory Relief that the newly elected Reagan Administration planned to relax or eliminate the US lead phaseout. Recognizing its cue, Du Pont formally called upon the EPA to rescind all lead regulations. EPA Administrator Ann Gorsuch was only too pleased to comply, but she unwittingly launched a firestorm of bad publicity in advance of an announcement by telling a visiting refiner with a big mouth that she would not enforce violations of current lead limits because the regulations would soon be repealed. When Gorsuch’s remarks appeared in the newspapers (and were lampooned in the comic strip Doonesbury), Reagan’s EPA would, under heavy political pressure, strike a compromise that effectively sped up the phaseout. Once again, Ethyl had been let down by old friends.

The New Science of Lead

Ethyl and Octel continued to whine, but by 1984 the health benefits of America’s lead phaseout had become too remarkable to ignore, and it was this fact that ultimately ended lead’s reign in America. The harmful effects of lead at lower and lower concentrations had been shown by independent studies in the late seventies and early eighties, and by now PHS was at long last settling in with the antilead camp. EPA economist Joel Schwartz, assigned by his Reaganaut superiors to examine the impact of the lead phaseout on small refiners preparatory to phasing lead back in, went rogue and reported back instead on the impact of the phaseout’s early years on American blood-lead levels, which the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta had been independently compiling. The CDC’s findings were startling, contradicting everything leadheads of the Kehoe school held dear.

Between 1976 and 1980 the EPA would report, the amount of lead consumed in gasoline dropped 50 percent. Over the same period, blood-lead levels dropped 37 percent. The EPA estimated that the public benefits of the phaseout, which included reduced medical costs and lower maintenance for cars, had already exceeded costs by $700 million. Between 1975 and 1984 lead for gasoline consumption dropped 73 percent, while ambient air lead decreased 71 percent [see graph in printed issue].

The Lead Industries Association was so angry with the data the EPA had corralled that in June 1984 it sued the CDC, which had impaneled its lead experts to prepare an updated statement on childhood lead poisoning for the nation’s medical and public health community (the suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds). Schwartz told The Nation that the collection of lead data was hindered by the Reagan Administration, which, early in its term, prohibited the CDC from requiring lead-screening programs to report results to it, figures that it would then publish each quarter in the scientific journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Reports. Subsequently, the CDC was prohibited from even inquiring about lead-screening program results.

As more impartial studies were funded, however, the common-sense objections to leaded gas raised by public health campaigners in the twenties only seemed more prescient. Yandell Henderson, Alice Hamilton, David Edsall and numerous other eminent public health scholars had precisely predicted the problem sixty years earlier, before it became a global condition. Sadly, they were ignored. Dispersed into the air in automobile exhaust, lead dust would be no more healthy than it was when lead smelting was identified as a poisonous pastime 3,000 years ago. Moreover, as with many industrial toxins, the perceived acceptable level of exposure fell as further studies were finally carried out.

In the fifties and sixties, blood-lead levels of less than 60 micrograms (a microgram is a millionth of a gram) per deciliter (one-tenth of a liter) of blood (mcg/dl) were considered acceptable by America’s medical establishment, not requiring intervention, because overt symptoms of lead poisoning, such as convulsions, do not typically occur below this level. Prior to that, dating back to the twenties, lead poisoning usually had to be severe enough to cause death or severe brain damage to be considered a diagnosed poisoning event. A corresponding blood-lead level of 80-100 mcg/dl or possibly higher might be imputed. In the intervening years, the acceptable level has dropped steadily from 40 mcg/dl to 30 to 25 and now to 10 or below.

Though the lead industry advocacy groups cling to the old numbers, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences have agreed that the ill-health effects beginning at 10 mcg/dl are established fact, “an unprecedented coherence of opinion in the field of neurotoxicology.” In 1994 a letter to the editors of the medical journal Pediatrics, several prominent lead research doctors addressing industry naysayers wrote, “If this massive database is not persuasive for lead, then no other chemical can be considered to have been demonstrated to be toxic.”

Completing a sequence familiar to pollution watchers, a recent review of scientific research by the National Research Council has led it to conclude, “There is growing evidence that there is no effective threshold for some of the adverse effects of lead.” Children are especially at risk. Summarizing its study of the relevant science, the Department of Housing and Urban Development wrote, “There does not yet appear to be a discernible threshold for the adverse effects of lead on the young.”

In a 90,000-word 1997 review of all scientific evidence on the subject, Erik Millstone of the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit at Sussex University concluded that children suffer ill effects from lead at especially low exposures–much lower than was thought even recently–including reduced IQ, behavioral and learning difficulties and hyperactivity. Children are 4-5 times more susceptible to the effects of lead than adults. According to the CDC this is because children’s digestive systems absorb more lead than adults–40-50 percent of that ingested versus 10-15 percent. In addition to breathing it in, children will ingest large quantities of airborne lead when it settles on soil, dust, food and playthings, which eventually contact their mouths. Based on research linking the two, in 1998 the Justice Department began studying the impact of childhood lead exposure on juvenile delinquent behavior.

Perhaps the only encouraging news in any discussion of leaded gasoline is how readily blood-lead levels fall when its use is trimmed or eliminated. The US phaseout of lead began in 1975 and was largely complete by 1986. Based on data collected in more than sixty US cities by the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that blood-lead levels in Americans aged 1-74 had declined 78 percent between 1978 and 1991.

For children aged 1-5, blood-lead levels decreased 76 percent, from 15.0 to 3.6 mcg/dl. The percent of children with blood-lead levels greater than or equal to 10 micrograms declined from 88 percent to 9 percent. The British Medical Journalreported three years ago that since Britain’s lead phaseout began, blood-lead levels there had fallen by two-thirds. In New York City, where the war against tetraethyl lead can be said to have first begun with its ban in 1925, Dr. Sergio Piomelli, a hematologist at Columbia University’s Children’s Hospital, has reported that before the US lead phaseout began, 30,000 out of 100,000 New York City children tested had elevated lead levels; after the phaseout was complete, 1,500 of 100,000 had similarly high levels. In 2000, he told The Nation, the affected population is even smaller.

Still, one of the most telling measures of the extent of human lead contamination–careful measurement of lead levels in the bones of our preindustrial ancestors–argues against too much backslapping. A 1992 article in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that pre-Columbian inhabitants of North America had average blood-lead levels 625 times lower than the current “safe” level of 10 mcg/dl.

Eastward, Ho!

Foreign custom kept Ethyl in business, and it put Octel on the map. In the seventies, with the auto industry embracing catalytic converters and talk of a lead phaseout circulating, the US market seemed certain to shrink, making foreign profits increasingly important to the lead giants. Casting back over 1972 in its annual report for that year, Ethyl reminded shareholders, “Continued penetration of expanding world markets would lessen any…impact on Ethyl’s total antiknock sales.” The following year, noting growing reservations about the American market, it went on to recall: “Sales of antiknock compounds continued to increase in all overseas markets in 1973. To promote this growth, Ethyl International added antiknock bulk terminals in the Far East, Middle East and South America. Construction of other terminals in various areas of the world is planned in 1974 and 1975.”

Ethyl further elaborated its foreign strategy in 1974: “Most foreign countries have recognized the importance of the role lead antiknocks play in conserving crude oil in this period of shortages…. we believe antiknocks will continue to constitute a major product of the Company for years to come whether or not there is a domestic reduction in use of lead in gasoline.”

By 1979 the company would observe, “It is worth noting that during the second half of 1979, for the first time, Ethyl’s foreign sales of lead antiknock compounds exceeded domestic sales.” Ethyl and Octel both were additionally fortunate in being able to manipulate their prices to keep profit levels high. As Octel reported in a 1998 SEC filing, “From 1989 to 1995, the Company was able to substantially offset the financial effects of the declining demand for TEL through higher TEL pricing. The magnitude of these price increases reflected the cost effectiveness of TEL as an octane enhancer as well as the high cost of converting refineries to produce higher octane grades of fuel.” In other words, they had their customers over a barrel.

Lead for the Poor

The sad, bitter fruit of Ethyl’s and Octel’s missionary work on behalf of leaded gasoline lies in its prevalence in the Third World today. Given the current state of knowledge regarding the hazards of lead, this constitutes a particularly egregious example of environmental racism. While more than 80 percent of the heaviest lead-using countries today are low income, 70 percent of low lead users (those that have phased out lead or allow only very low levels) are high income. While Americans cruise their freeways burning exclusively unleaded gasoline, as of 1996, 93 percent of all gasoline sold in Africa contained lead, 94 percent in the Middle East, 30 percent in Asia and 35 percent in Latin America.

According to the World Bank, 1.7 billion urbanites in developing nations are in danger of lead poisoning, including neurological damage, high blood pressure and heart disease from airborne lead, 90 percent of which is attributable to leaded gasoline. Excessive exposure to lead causes 200,000-500,000 cases of hypertension in the Third World, with 400 deaths per year attributable to lead exposure in the late eighties. In Mexico City, one of the world’s most polluted (and populous) cities, 4 million cars pump an estimated 32 tons of lead each day into the air. In Jakarta, one and a half tons enters the atmosphere every twenty-four hours. A research scientist with the Canadian National Water Research Institute performed roadside-dust analyses in Nigeria that revealed as much as 6,000 parts per million of lead. In the United States, lead dust is considered hazardous to children at 600 ppm [see chart in printed issue].

In Alexandria, Egypt, where gas is heavily leaded, concentrations of TEL and air-lead levels are often double the European Union’s recommended level, and traffic controllers have been found to suffer central nervous system dysfunction. In Cairo more than 800 infants die annually because of maternal exposure to lead. Daytime air-lead levels in Buenos Aires have been measured at 3.9 grams per cubic meter versus the twenty-four-hour EU limit of 1 gram per cubic meter.

The continued use of TEL is especially troubling in light of the fact that the Third World’s car population is multiplying rapidly, a situation that will only intensify if multinational automobile manufacturers have their way. Although the Chinese government has recently expressed its intention to remove lead from its fuel, other nations that haven’t are already seeing vehicular population explosions like that predicted for China.

Prodded by Western lead manufacturers, some countries have even allowed the lead content in their gasoline to be increased. Although it has since moved toward deleading its gasoline, India, for instance, more than doubled the amount of lead permitted in its gasoline (from 0.22 to 0.56 grams per liter) during the seventies and eighties; in Uganda, the number soared from 0.58 to 0.84 grams per liter, higher than was ever typical in the West. Never known for their philanthropy, refiners in poorer nations are disinclined to upgrade their refineries so as to obtain higher octane gasolines without using lead.

Ironically, in the nineties the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, exported unleaded gasoline. But it was importing TEL and adding it to all gasoline sold for domestic use–this in the country with the greatest number of automobiles per capita in Latin America. By way of explanation, it is perhaps not unhelpful to know that several high-ranking officials of the state oil company held consultancies with companies that sell lead additives to the country. Among the consequences of this corrupt arrangement: According to a 1991 study 63 percent of newborns studied had blood-lead levels in excess of US “safe” levels.

Environmental standards in Third World countries tend to be lax. Where clean-air laws and unleaded gasoline do not exist, there is no impetus for automobile manufacturers to install catalytic converters in their cars. With the rapid growth in automobile use and the growing size of these countries’ fleets, coupled with low vehicle-turnover rates (car lives of fifteen years are not at all uncommon in low-income countries) and minimal maintenance, air pollution becomes a much greater hazard. According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds of India’s pollution is generated today by vehicles, compared with only 24 percent in 1971; the WHO estimates that 7,500 deaths in New Delhi each year are related to air pollution.

Finally, because lead ruins catalytic converters and fouls modern engine-management computers, leaded gasoline prevents motorists in these countries from using more efficient, less-polluting modern vehicles even if they want to. Where cars equipped with catalysts are sold as new or used vehicles, a predominantly leaded fuel supply invites motorists to either remove the air-cleansing catalysts or destroy them by filling their cars with leaded fuel.

It’s Cleanup Time

The public health benefits and cost savings to societies of removing lead from gasoline are so vast that the business-friendly World Bank was moved–at a 1996 UN conference in Turkey, where leaded gas still accounts for 82 percent of the market–to call for a complete global phaseout. The bank calculated that the United States had saved more than $10 for every $1 it invested in its conversion to unleaded, by reducing health costs, saving on engine maintenance and improving fuel efficiency with modern engine technologies. Further claiming that no-lead fuel may increase engine life by as much as 150 percent, the bank called for an immediate five-year phaseout. (Buttressing the World Bank’s public-spirited campaign, undoubtedly, is the realization that many of the state-owned oil companies currently producing leaded gasoline will require private investment–and possibly ownership–to finance refinery upgrades to produce high-octane unleaded fuels.)

Unsurprisingly, the industry, which favors phaseouts of twenty-years’ duration and more, responded testily:

“Octel and the World Bank have been discussing the transition from leaded to unleaded gasoline for a long time,” a spokesman told the Chemical Marketing Reporterin 1996. “It isn’t really appropriate for the World Bank to apply US studies and data to the phaseout of lead in Third World countries.”

Ethyl and Octel both have strategies for dealing with Third World nations seeking to go unleaded. In separate interviews with The Nation, they admitted advising their remaining customers to go slow. As Ethyl’s vice president of international sales, Bob Yondola, explained: “As countries have the infrastructure to support unleaded gasoline, have the monies for their people to buy the new cars, etc., etc., it makes sense [to switch to unleaded gas]. But if you’ve got some parts of the world where their infrastructure is still–you know, they need to come up with food and water, and sewers…for their people. And there are still places in the world like that. Then, I mean, getting the lead out of the gasoline, to me, wouldn’t make as much sense as having sewers.”

Associated Octel’s public affairs spokesman Bob Larbey, since retired, said his firm will help Third World refiners clean up their contaminated lead operations, for a fee. “But,” he said, “we talk to developing countries. For example, refiners come to us and say, ‘We want to get the lead out,’ because we’re refinery experts, you see, and we could advise them on how they could best phase lead out, with what strategy. I think if we argue anything at all, we say, ‘Well, if you’re going to go out of lead, fine, let’s talk a bit, but there’s no need, this is the lead in health information, there’s no proven adverse health affect, and so there’s no need for you to do it precipitously. You might not want to take twenty years [as in the European phaseout] but really, there’s no need to rush.’ Because if you replaced it with other components of petrol then there’s a risk from anything…. Petrol itself is a risk without lead.”

The lead industry clutches the alleged dangers of other octane-enhancing gasoline additives near to its bosom. While admitting the hazard of his company’s product, one Octel executive told the New York Times that leaded fuel is an “economic and environmental bargain” for the Third World because it improves fuel economy, which lowers other emissions like benzene, also found in gasoline.

“Getting rid of one environmental risk won’t necessarily improve public health if you replace it with greater risks,” yet another spokesman for Octel’s affiliate told theChemical Marketing Reporter. Benzene, the hazard to which lead enthusiasts refer most often, can be used by refiners to boost octane cheaply in the absence of lead. But it isn’t mandatory, and any sensible lead-reduction regulation would limit its use. Moreover, while as many as 5,000 Americans died annually from lead-related heart disease prior to the lead phaseout, only forty-seven people developed cancer from the use of benzene as a lead replacement. “The health impacts of aromatics [like benzene] are several orders of magnitude less than that of lead,” said a World Bank spokesperson.

Diversification and Spinoff

Selling lead is an unusually profitable business. As Ethyl’s 1995 report to shareholders blandly observes, lead additive sales accounted for 26 percent of gross revenues, but 74 percent of its profit. In 1995 the New York Times wrote of the profit bonanza Octel’s then-owner, Great Lakes Chemical, had stumbled upon when, searching for sources of bromine for fire retardants, it landed in the TEL business.

Far from petering out, demand for leaded gasoline, while shrinking, has remained far stronger than anyone predicted, especially in the third world. Meanwhile, every other major producer has stopped making the additives, known as tetraethyl lead, or TEL. That has left Great Lakes with an unexpected flood of profits and 90 percent of a market that no one else will enter because of the environmental problems associated with lead and the huge capital costs of building a new plant.

Octel’s old plant, along the Manchester Ship Canal outside Liverpool, bankrolled immense growth for Great Lakes, allowing it to double in size within five years (to $5 billion in annual revenue) following its acquisition of Octel, all the while maintaining a hefty 15 percent annual operating profit. As recently as 1977 Great Lakes had only $50 million in operating revenue.

Years of lead profits have funded major diversification efforts for Ethyl and its owners, led by the Gottwald family of Richmond. The company’s annual report for 1996 revealed “a long-running strategy: namely, using Ethyl’s significant cash flow from lead antiknocks to build a self-supporting major business and earnings stream in the petroleum additives industry.”

By 1983 Ethyl had become “the world’s largest producer of organo-metallic chemicals.” It would expand its production for the petroleum industry (including the purchase of the petroleum additives divisions of Amoco and Texaco), as well as acquire interests in other specialty chemicals, plastics and aluminum products, oil, gas and coal. Ethyl would also invest billions in pharmaceuticals, biotech research, semiconductors and life insurance. At great expense, it would develop a serene corporate campus of seventy acres along the banks of the James River in Richmond.

As the science against TEL mounted and government regulation stiffened, Ethyl began a series of restructurings that today find its TEL business standing suspiciously alone. In 1989 Ethyl spun off Tredegar Industries, a group it created to hold its aluminum, plastics and energy businesses. For every Ethyl share they held, investors would receive prorated shares in the new company. Voilà! Limited liability. Later Ethyl would spin off its billion-dollar insurance company, First Colony Life. In 1994 Ethyl would split up its chemical and petroleum additives division and create a wholly owned subsidiary, Albemarle Corporation, named after the 100-year-old paper company that bought Ethyl (which retained its name) in 1962. One of the main enterprises of Albemarle, ironically, is supplying Ethyl with MMT under a long-term agreement. MMT is another gasoline additive (made of manganese and barely sold in the United States) with suspected health consequences. In 1994 Ethyl and its Albemarle offspring did a rousing $48 million of business together. Oddly, for a company that claims to be proud of its product (so proud that under an obscure provision of NAFTA it sued the Canadian government for outlawing MMT) Ethyl declined to tell Automobile Magazine in 1999 in which countries it sold MMT to refiners, presumably because it fears awakening consumers to the presence of its manganese additive.

Because it was itself spun off to a management team from Great Lakes Chemical, Octel remains highly concentrated in lead, with TEL representing 85 percent of its business in 1996. Although CEO Dennis Kerrison has announced his intention to develop non-TEL businesses into core businesses by 2005, “even the most extreme estimates allow for the continued use of leaded petrol in some parts of the world until at least the year 2010.” Off the record, company officials admit they could be selling lead in 2020 and beyond.

Until then, Octel, “through the specialist facilities of Octel Environmental, provides a range of decontamination, destruction, removal and recycling services to refineries throughout the world to help to reduce the environmental impact of toxic lead residues.” Under its Product Stewardship Programme–“a public service,” Octel calls it–fifty tons of lead alkyl sludge were removed from New Zealand refineries as part of a cleanup beginning in 1996. Octel had supplied the refineries with 4,000 tons of TEL annually for years. So, in a crowning irony, poisoned motorists in New Zealand and around the world will, through higher gasoline prices, pay Octel (and Ethyl) to clean up the mess the TEL barons and their refinery customers made.

Will the Sun Ever Set on Lead?

Associated Octel’s fiftieth-anniversary catalogue affectionately quotes a letter the company received from a former technical services manager in 1982, when Britain’s antilead campaign kicked off in earnest: “Many funerals have been arranged for lead in petrol–1926, 1943, 1954, 1970, etc.–as I can recall. The grave has been dug, the service arranged, the coffin prepared, the parson and mourners instructed, but the body just would not lie down in the coffin.”

Though the catalogue was published in 1988, the sentimental hope that it’s not over yet is secretly still held by Octel and Ethyl, and all the others who continue to push leaded gasoline. But the body of tetraethyl lead must be made to lie down in its coffin. The five-year phaseout of leaded gasoline favored by the World Bank in 1996 makes inarguable moral and business sense–two things that don’t always go together, especially at the World Bank. The only ones arguing otherwise are Octel, Ethyl and the small coterie of self-interested researchers and narrowly trained toxicological technicians who’ve lived on the industry’s tab for the last thirty years, since Robert Kehoe stepped down.

Many European nations have banned leaded gas for 2000. Progress has been made. But somehow Ethyl and Octel will be splitting Third World profits for years to come. If the science was ever in doubt (and it really wasn’t), the facts are now incontrovertible. Leaded gasoline is dangerous. When safer alternatives are available, as they always have been, leaded gasoline’s benefits are nil. It is not good for cars, and it prevents the use of modern emissions reduction equipment, like catalytic converters, which, owing to the greenhouse effect, the world needs more desperately now than ever. TEL’s most crass (and main) historic selling point is no longer valid: It isn’t even cheap.

There is at least one simple lesson to be drawn from the tetraethyl lead story. Industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself, as Clair Patterson–the man who dated the earth and single-handedly deflated ethylized science–once remarked. “It is not just a mistake for public health agencies to cooperate and collaborate with industries in investigating and deciding whether public health is endangered–it is a direct abrogation and violation of the duties and responsibilities of those public health organizations.”

As for General Motors, Du Pont, Standard Oil, Ethyl, Associated Octel and rest of the lead cabal, it’s conceivable they’ll be hauled into court sooner or later, which is one reason these companies all take such an active interest in so-called tort reform legislation. You would too, if you had been a key actor in one of the most tortious episodes of twentieth-century industrial history. We can hope that Congress doesn’t give them a free pass, but no matter what, it will be the citizenry that will pay any financial bills coming due. They’ve already paid with their health. Many of the effects of childhood lead exposure are irreversible.

These businesses should be shut down. And to make sure they don’t forget their heinous experience, all these companies ought to open their archives to independent review, to assist in assembling the information that will help lay TEL down to eternal rest, to help show the world what went wrong when common sense was put on hold in the name of profit. In the face of all that is known today, the leaderships of foreign countries who continue to poison their people with TEL should be harangued to phase out lead from their gasoline–on a daily basis, by the United Nations as well as by governments, agencies and medical officials from around the world. Until then, the merchants of tetraethyl lead–or any other unnecessary additive known to be dangerous–are no better than criminals. They should be dealt with accordingly. Maybe in this new century they will be.

The author wishes to thank for their assistance and to acknowledge the research of Professor William Kovarik, Dr. Herbert Needleman, Professors David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, Dr. Jerome Nriagu, Dr. Amy Kyle, Richard Merritt, Richard Bremner and Alan Loeb. He would also like to express particular gratitude to his research associate, Bill Krauss, his editor, Richard Lingeman, and his fact-checker, Michael Kunichika.

Sponsored by Revcontent
Publicado en Automóvil, Contaminacion Ambiental, Cultura, Economia, Responsabilidad Social | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Los Automoviles son Maquinas de Muerte: Matan cada año a 30,000 en EUA y a 2,3 millones en el mundo

Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year | Collectors Weekly.

boston fatalitiesHay un secreto ‘publico’ en EUA (MX tambien): Si quieres matar a alguien, hazlo con un coche, en tanto lo hagas estando sobrio, tienes muchas probabilidades de que nunca te finquen un delito, y menos aún homicidio involuntario.

Seguir leyendo

Publicado en Calles, Peaton, Politicas Publicas, Responsabilidad Social, Trafico | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

La Ciudad a la Altura de los Ojos – video

Los «plintos» (basamentos) de la ciudad son los pisos bajos que negocian el interior y el exterior, entre lo publico y lo privado. Son lo que hacen a una calle interesante, amable y vital por sus variadas vitrinas y aparadores que muestran los mil y un objetos que atraen la vision de los paseantes.

Publicado en Caminabilidad, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Peaton, Politicas Publicas, Uncategorized | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

La Ciudad a la Altura de los Ojos

«La Ciudad a la Altura de los Ojos»Video en 4 Capitulos
1. El Ambito Publico
2. Buenos y malos plintos, criterios
3. Viviendo en Planta Baja a nivel calle, el juego del plinto
4. Estudio de un caso: Zoho Rotterdam

CITY AT EYE LEVEL Lessons for street plinths Episode 1 – Public realm – YouTube.

1: El Ambito Publico

El plinto (zócalo o basamento) de la ciudad son las plantas a nivel calle de los edificios, que gestionan el interior y con el exterior, entre lo publico y lo privado: esto es la ciudad a nivel de los ojos. Los plintos son extremadamente importantes para la experiencia urbana, la cual es un importante motor de la economía urbana. Los plintos pueden cubrir solo 10% del edificio, pero determinan 90% de la experiencia urbana.

El video «La Ciudad a Nivel de los Ojos» contribuye al libro y contiene 4 capitulos sobre como un buen plinto «trabaja» para hacer una mejor calle a nivel de los ojos. Tanto el libro como el video contienen ejemplos concretos e inspiradores de estrategias para el diseño, programa de uso de suelo, hacer lugares significativos, la relacion con la calle, los flujos peatonales, creacion compartida, y la colaboracion de los socios

2. Buenos y malos plintos, criterios

CITY AT EYE LEVEL Lessons for street plinths Episode 2 – Good and bad plinths, criteria – YouTube.

3. Viviendo en Planta Baja a nivel calle, el juego del plinto

CITY AT EYE LEVEL Lessons for street plinths Episode 3 – Living on the ground floor – YouTube.

4. Estudio de un caso: Zoho Rotterdam

CITY AT EYE LEVEL Lessons for street plinths Episode 4 – ZoHo Rotterdam – YouTube.

Publicado en Calles, Caminabilidad, Economia, Edificios, Espacio Publico, Peaton | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

La ciudad debe ser mas Caminable


Publicado en Calles, Espacio Publico, Habitabilidad | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Entrevista a Tom Vanderbilt, autor de «Traffic, why we drive the way we do»

Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

Tanto si eres un geek de la transportación o simplemente curioso de por qué las personas hacen las cosas que hacen al volante, El libro «Traffic» de Tom Vanderbilt es uno de los más fascinantes que puedes abrir.

Tom, quien también escribe en el excelente blog «How We Drive«, tuvo la amabilidad de pasar por la oficina de Streetfilms para conversar sobre su vasta investigación en el mundo del coche y el conductor. Aquí está nuestro video de diez minutos con lo más destacado de su charla con el fundador de OpenPlans y editor de Streetsblog Mark Gorton. La entrevista cubre temas desde el Invisible Gorilla a imágenes intensas grabadas con DriveCam de colisiones automovilísticas a los peligros de la tecnología de insonorizacion promocionada por los fabricantes de automóviles. Si conduce todos los días o nunca,  te ilustrara sobre lo que ocurre dentro de la cabeza de la gente una vez que están en el interior de un automóvil.

Publicado en Movilidad, Politicas Publicas, Trafico | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

«Debemos corregir la urbanización» con Felipe Calderón

“We Have to Get Urbanization Right”: Q&A with Felipe Calderón on Cities in the New Climate Economy.

Publicado en Desarrollo Urbano, Planeacion Urbana, Uncategorized | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Video sobre las externalidades negativas del uso del automóvil

Claras y sencillas explicaciónes de lo que son las externalidades positivas y negativas en general y las negativas del uso del auto y sus costos, la mayoría de estos costos, son subsidiados inequitativamente por la sociedad al sector usuario del auto

Microeconomic Externalities


Negative Externalities

Positive Externalities

Publicado en Movilidad, Trafico | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Streetfilms | Lista de todas las Streetfilms

Streetfilms | List of All Streetfilms vía Streetfilms | List of All Streetfilms.

Más galerías | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Video explicativo del trafico por abuso del auto

Publicado en Bicicleta, Calles, Trafico, TransportePublico | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Hacia una estrategia de Desarrollo Orientado al Transporte para el DF

ITDP México » Hacia una estrategia de Desarrollo Orientado al Transporte para el Distrito Federal.

mapa dot Fb


Publicado en Desarrollo Urbano, Planeacion Urbana, Transporte, Transporte sostenible | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Automóviles: el costo del tiempo perdido | Arquine

arquitectura, diseño y ciudad desde México.

Origen: Automóviles: el costo del tiempo perdido | Arquine

Publicado en Uncategorized | Deja un comentario

Chicago Architecture Foundation – Platicas en el Lunch


Podcasts sobre temas de urbanismo, arquitectura, preservacion del patrimonio urbano, espacio publico, edificios emblematicos de la maravillosa ciudad de Chicago.

Publicado en Desarrollo Urbano, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , , , | Deja un comentario

Leer la Ciudad, lo que escriben diversos autores sobre la ciudad

Serie de platicas y discusiones sobre temas urbanos organizadas por la Editorial El Caminante, con invitados de diversas ramas del conocimiento y diversas experiencias profesionales y urbanas. Se hacen una cada mes, y las iremos añadiendo a este post, conforme sean publicadas.

Muerte y Vida de las Grandes Ciudades


Energia y Equidad. – Entrevista a Jean Robert


El Derecho a la Ciudad – de Henri Lefervre


El Arte del Paseo Ingles – Editorial Tumbona – entrevista al autor Luigi Amara


Damas en Bicicleta  – Mujeres Bici-bles

Publicado en Urbanismo | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Edificios emblematicos de la Ciudad de Mexico

Publicado en CDMX, Ciudad, Edificios, Uncategorized | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Ponle Precio al uso de las Vialidades | Videos

Videos sobre el cobro por el uso de las calles – Tarificacion Vial">

Una de las herramientas mas eficaces para disminuir congestionamientos de trafico es hacer que quien use las vialidades, pague por ello, –Tarificacion Vial, Peaje por Uso, Cargo por Congestion-, distintos nombres para el mismo concepto.
Aqui accedes a unas videocapsulas de corta duracion, con explicaciones muy graficas, sencillas y muy simples, para hacer comprensibles a todo publico, que significa Trafico Inducido, Tarificacion Vial, Externalidades Negativas del Uso del Auto, etc., que por ser conceptos contraintuitivos, frecuentemente no son entendidos.

Publicado en Calles, Economia, Movilidad, Trafico | Etiquetado , , , , , , , | Deja un comentario

SagaCity muestra ventajas de Desarrollo Urbano antropocentrico – video

Una interesante e ilustrativa video animacion que con dibujos animados muestra las diferencias entre el desarrollo urbano de mediados del siglo XX, extendido y desparramado dependiente del automovil, afortunadamente hoy caduco y casi extinto en el mundo (Ebrard insiste en mantenerlo vivo con sus anacronicos e inutiles 2ºs pisos y supervias) y el desarrollo urbano centrado en las personas, denso, compacto, mezclado, amable al peaton y promotor de la convivencia e interaccion personal de perfectos desconocidos compartiendo el espacio publico y generando intercambios culturales, sociales, economicos y cientificos que favorecen una mayor actividad economica y productividad

Publicado en Desarrollo Urbano, Trafico, Transporte, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , , , , , , , , , , , | Deja un comentario

Ideas e Inspiración para Mejores Ciudades, Intervenciones Exitosas al Espacio Público

URB-I Urban Ideas

Transformaciones Simples Pueden Cambiar la Manera Como Percibimos los Espacios Publicos

Ejemplos de transformaciones del espacio publico de ser orientado al auto a ser amigable al peaton. Vistos mediante google «streetview». La galeria esta creciendo constantemente. Síguenos!

Publicado en Calles, Espacio Publico, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario

Desgraciada Expansion: Consecuencias de la Suburbanizacion

Publicado en Accesibilidad, Desarrollo Urbano, Movilidad, Trafico, TransportePublico, Vivienda | Etiquetado , , , , , , , | Deja un comentario

El Tranvia Moderno en Europa.

Origen: The-Modern-Tram-in-Europe.pdf

Publicado en Movilidad, TransportePublico | Etiquetado , , | Deja un comentario
Él Ángel Metropolitano

Periódico Digital


Arte, Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Ciudad

Bicis Solidarias

La bici como instrumento de socialización y transformación urbana. Contacto @Bici_Solidaria


If you can't explain it simple, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


urban analysis

a fresh drawing everyday

sketching everyday since 2010

Alfredo Acle Tomasini

Publicar es atreverse a pensar en voz alta


Blog vecinal de Lomas de Chapultepec

{FAVEL issues}

urban informality + urban development


Cronicas,fotografias y videos de mis viajes en bicicleta por el mundo.


Análisis del espacio geográfico






Blog vecinal de Lomas de Chapultepec

A post-automobile world?

An open-source collection of news and other items about life beyond the car. This collection is meant to be a forum collection of information from different disciplinary perspectives such as transportation planning and policy, urban design, public health, demographics, infrastructure and cultural changes. All considering the possible urban transformation our cities will go through when the car becomes absolute. Please feel free to send an email to for any questions or articles you would like to be published in the site.