The impact of automobiles on American society

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Discuss the impact that automobiles have had on U.S. society.?

Wow… Where do you even begin?

Automobiles were the single most important enabling factor in urban sprawl. Before automobile, cities grew mostly up, not out.

Automotive industry was arguably the first one to master mass production of capital goods.

Automotive industry and its unions played very important role in the labor movement.

Automotive industry is partially responsible for the rise of the Big Government. In the age of railroads, tracks were built and owned privately. Automotive industry successfully lobbied for increased public spending on (and public ownership of) roads.

Several industries changed their shape to better fit with automobile (drive-through restaurants, drive-in movie theaters, liability insurance, etc.) A few industries (dealerships, auto repair, gas stations) simply evolved to serve the needs of automobile owners.

Automobiles remain one of the most heavily advertised category of goods, so they have an impact on media.

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