As Austin considers building a new electric light rail system—streetcars, really—it is worth looking back to the city’s first streetcar era. For fifty years, from 1891 until 1940, Austin had an extensive network of electric streetcar lines, running from Hyde Park in the north to Travis Heights in the south, and from Lake Austin in the west to the heart of East Austin.
Albert Einstein is perhaps the most recognizable figure of modern times. In 1999 Time magazine picked him as its “Person of the Century,” and in the public mind he certainly stands as the iconic scientist. He is generally pictured as an otherworldly genius, inhabiting a cosmic realm far above the mundane affairs of ordinary life, and in some ways he was. Yet when Einstein hit on his most famous and revolutionary idea, his Theory of Relativity, in 1905, he was working as a patent examiner at the Swiss Federal Patent Office in Bern, spending his days scrutinizing the designs of electrical machinery.