October 24, 2018

The Economics of Walking

It is December, 1930. The stock market has crashed the year before, and the prospect of recovery is waning. In response, the French Company's advertising unit launches a timely, month-long campaign devoted to the benefits of walking ‒ not for health reasons, but rather economic ones. Below, the four ads from that campaign.

LEGS ARE STILL THE CHEAPEST MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION. Copy excerpt: "It's not the 5 cents you spend on a subway ride that's so expensive, but the lost energy and time. And so we maintain that walking to business from Tudor City is one of the greatest economies you can make." [The ad's surreal artwork (enlarged below) featuring a clock face, a trousered leg and a subway car doesn't make much sense, but sure is eye-catching.]

THE GREATEST ECONOMY YOU CAN MAKE IS WALKING TO BUSINESS. "Arduous subway journeys are banished. Troublesome commuting is no more. . . And of course Tudor City offers the very concrete economy of reasonable rentals ‒ more reasonable than ever now that the new adjusted schedules are in force."

IF YOU DON'T WALK TO BUSINESS YOU ARE EXTRAVAGANT. "If you don't walk to business, you're wasting valuable time and precious energy on trains and subways. And this is not a year to waste anything. . ." [a reference to the worsening Depression].

NOW IS THE TIME FOR A WALK-OUT BECAUSE WALKING IS AS CHEAP AS EVER. "You'll walk home at night to an apartment with innumerable energy-saving conveniences at your call: maid service, three excellent restaurants, a circulating library, a community store and many others."

"Energy saving" had a different meaning in 1930 than it does today.

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