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The Invention of ‘Jaywalking’

In the 1920s, the public hated cars. So the auto industry fought back — with language.

A 1921 card handed out to pedestrians, with the newfangled term “jaywalking”

This is the story of how, in the 1920s, the auto industry chased people off the streets of America — by waging a brilliant psychological campaign.

They convinced the public that if you got run over by a car, it was your fault.




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Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson

I write three times a week about tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer for NYT mag/Wired; author of “Coders” and “Smarter Than You Think”

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