Cleopatra Schuhmacher 1.StEx
Dept. 2: History and Social Sciences
Institute of History, Department of Modern and Contemporary History
work +49 6151 16-57574
• History of infrastructures in metropolitan contexts
• History of technology
• Infrastructure history
• cultural history
• Transport and communication history
The pneumatic tube in Cities: bridge technology or technological impasse? Comparison of the systems of Berlin and Hamburg 1865-1975 (working title)
The pneumatic tube is a system that uses compressed air and suction to transport documents in small cans through an underground pipe system. With this technology, it was possible to transport messages more quickly and securely within the cities and it was partially made accessible to the public in the form of complex urban pneumatic tube networks. It is still used today as in-house pneumatic technology within companies.
In the period between 1850 and 1980, pneumatic tube systems had a status as critical infrastructures in modern metropolises. On one hand, pneumatic transportation as a system of systems initially served to overcome the last few meters of telegraphic messages in the city. On the other hand, the plans and visions of the operators of the pneumatic tube assigned this role, since it assumed the function of a bridging technology between the telegraphic era and the establishment of the telephone. The systemic design of the networks as an indicator of criticality is an important research aspect for the dissertation. For this purpose, an analysis of the networks should be carried out, taking into account the interdependence, in some cases also dependency, on other infrastructure systems.
The research work will deal with the question of the extent to which the pneumatic system has been assigned meaning as a transport infrastructure within urban traffic.
The aim is to investigate the de-criticalization processes of this system and, in doing so, illuminate the entire historical development process and the question of the structuring of urban space through this infrastructure. The work focuses on the phenomena of transformation and circulation.