Tag Archives: Traffic

Madison Square In 1887

A Winter Scene Of Madison Square 1887

etching Madison Square 1887 artist Frank M Gregory

This charming etching by Frank M. Gregory (1848-1927) comes from a limited edition book Representative Etchings By Artists of To-day In America by Ripley Hitchcock, 1887, Fredrick A Stokes. The book included ten original etchings from noted artists of the day including Frederick S. Church, Robert F. Blum and Stephen Parrish.

We are looking north up Fifth Avenue. The busy street scene with horse drawn carriages, delivery wagons and pedestrians features a Broadway Squad policeman escorting a young girl across the street.

On the left is the Fifth Avenue Hotel and beyond that is Broadway. The obelisk in the center is the General William Worth Monument. Directly behind the monument on 25th Street, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway diverge is the building that housed The New York Club, an exclusive men’s club, in 1887. The building was originally built in 1865 as a hotel named Worth House.  In 1888 a fire displaced the New York Club. The structure that now occupies that site, was built in 1918 and is the New York flagship store of Porcelanosa.

Madison Square Park is barely visible on the right.

Further up Fifth Avenue on the corner of 26th Street is the Brunswick Hotel. Diagonally opposite the Brunswick is the famous Delmonico’s restaurant.

The steeple in the distance on Fifth Avenue and 29th Street is the Marble Collegiate Church.

We’ve Seen This Before, Late March New York City Snowstorm Shuts Down The City – 1956

Huge Snowstorm In March 1956 Paralyzed New York City and Suburbs

New York – Pedestrians trample their way through snow-covered streets here 3/19 after the worst snowfall in eight years crippled New York’s transportation system and left thousands of motorists stranded on the highway systems leading into the city. More than 2,000 cars were abandoned on the roads. photo United Press Telephoto 3/19/1956

Just in time for spring, the weather forecasters are predicting a lot of snow for New York City starting Tuesday, March 20. Possibly eight inches will fall across the area and then melt within a couple of days.

Snow becomes the main news story here in New York. This will be a small storm compared to the snowstorm that hit New York City on March 18 – 20, 1956.  By the time it was over, New York City received 13 and a half inches of snow, making travel in the region next to impossible.

New York – Snow business is bad business for the owner of a corner grocery store in suburban Queens here 3/20. Folks weren’t exactly beating a path to his door so he closed for the day. 3/20/1956 photo United Press Telephoto

What made this storm worse than others what not just the amount of snow but the surprise nature of it. Continue reading

The Myth of Congestion Pricing – A Plan To Tax and Punish Car Drivers

New York City and State Are Getting Ready To Implement Congestion Pricing – Which Doesn’t Solve The Underlying Issues And Imposes A Regressive Tax That Punishes All But The Very Wealthy

Second Avenue 3 pm – What’s causing the traffic? It’s not the cars.

What I’m about to say will not be popular because most readers do not own a car and live in Manhattan. But if you disagree, don’t bother to write back because you can’t convince me and I probably can’t convince you.

There is a war on cars and their drivers in New York City. And the city’s solution in this war is congestion pricing, which is not the answer.

A preface- I bicycle a minimum of 50 miles a week on city streets. I walk at least another five miles and take public transportation whenever possible. But I also own a car. Why car owners are despised and have scorn heaped upon them I’ve yet to understand. Maybe because so many drivers are dangerous and don’t actually know the proper way to drive. Seeing someone speeding up to a red light is just one of my pet peeves.

It doesn’t take a car driver to notice that in New York City, especially in Manhattan, traffic is moving slower than ever.

Over the last eight years traffic’s gotten progressively worse. At first glance you might say; well there are just too many cars and why should people be driving into Manhattan? Let those who drive in Manhattan pay for the privilege.

There are several things wrong with that logic. Let’s start with the most basic problem.

The city, not the vehicles have purposely made traffic worse.

If you think that this was an unintended consequence think again.

What is causing the actual horrific bumper to bumper traffic? Guess what, it is definitely not passenger automobiles. I long suspected this and now I had to go out and prove it. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #78 – Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street 1903

Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street c. 1903 – Crowded Street On A Cold Sunny Day

This bustling scene was captured by a Detroit Publishing Company photographer around 1903. The view is from the southeast corner of 42nd Street looking north up Fifth Avenue.

It is obviously a cold and sunny day with most people wearing warm coats. Enlarging our photograph the first thing you may notice is that everyone is uniformly dressed. All the women have the same dress length, just past the ankle. Every man wears a suit or overcoat.  Take a look around. There is not a single person hatless.

Let’s zoom in on some of the details.

On the northeast corner of 42nd Street an elderly man stops to take a look at the work going on inside an open manhole.

As usual, at all very busy intersections, a policeman is on duty to help direct the flow of traffic both vehicular and pedestrian.

This gentleman on the left with the gold watch fob and chain looks to be a prosperous fellow, possibly on his way back to his office after lunch.

Of course other people look spiffy without being wealthy. This sharp looking mustachioed hansom cab driver holding a whip is dressed immaculately. Continue reading

Proposed Brooklyn Bridge Expansion – A Terrible Idea, But I’ve Got A Solution

City Proposes Brooklyn Bridge Expansion Due To Overcrowding

The Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway is always crowded. photo via christiangood.net

The Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway is always crowded. photo via christiangood.net

As reported in the New York Times, New York City officials are considering widening the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian and bicycle promenade because of overcrowding.

It’s a terrible idea. But I’ve got a solution that may not be popular, but will surely lessen the congestion on the walkway.

Anyone who has tried to walk or bicycle across the bridge in the past few years realizes that it is crowded. How crowded?  At all hours the bridge’s 10 to 17 foot wide promenade is full of not just commuters, but tourists. Thousands of visitors, many with selfie sticks meandering slowly, oblivious to their surroundings. Add to that, the bicyclists, hawkers of water and food, the dreaded costumed characters and a few street performers and there you have it, a congealed mass of humanity in a confined space.

Officials say an expansion of the pedestrian path should alleviate the overcrowding. As many people know, city projects almost always end up taking longer and costing New York taxpayers significantly more than the estimated cost.

Taking an iconic bridge and altering it is not the solution to the overcrowding.

The simple solution is to charge a pedestrian toll. The toll would be applicable to anyone not from the New York area. Show a New York ID card or drivers license and you don’t pay the fee. The toll waiver could include residents from the surrounding tri-state area. Cyclists could also cross for free.

If you are from somewhere else and touring the city, you pay for the privilege of walking across the bridge, just as you pay for any other heavily visited tourist site.

The next part is to ban anyone performing or selling anything on the bridge. The problem with that, is something called the First Amendment, which allows artistic expression and the sale of items protected under the First Amendment; i.e. – art, books, etc. Continue reading

Banning Cars On City Streets In Manhattan – Not A New Idea

Fifth Avenue – Sans Cars 1970

The Story Of Mayor John Lindsay’s Pedestrian Malls

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom photo shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970 as traffic was cleared

While many environmental and safety groups bandy about various schemes for making streets safer for pedestrians by removing or limiting cars from city streets, the idea is older than you might think.

During his tenure as mayor of New York City from 1966-1973, John Lindsay always favored pedestrians.

Lindsay’s initial ban of cars took place in May of 1969. Lindsay and the city closed a small area of Nassau Street in downtown Manhattan as part of a temporary 90 day experiment during lunch hour from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M..

After 90 days Lindsay declared the “experimental” closure permanent.

The next year on April 22, 1970 the city closed some streets for the first Earth Day.

It’s one thing to shut down a narrow street in the financial district or some larger streets for a special occasion like Earth Day, it’s quite another to ban cars in the heart of New York’s shopping district.

Lindsay’s bigger plans came to fruition, also as an experiment, 44 years ago on Saturday, July 11, 1970. Lindsay closed vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., on a fifteen block stretch on Fifth Avenue from 42nd through 57th Streets.

The day before the experiment Mayor Lindsay said, “New Yorker’s should enjoy the most beautiful and exciting street when it becomes a pedestrian mall.”

This would also be different because the merchants along Fifth Avenue were not enamored with the idea. It was the first concerted effort by city officials to see the impact of a traffic closure on a major New York City street and observe the effects on noise, air quality and more importantly, quality of life. Continue reading

Old New York in Photos #5 – 42nd Street c. 1909

42nd Street Looking West From Park Avenue c. 1909

42nd Street 1910 Photo Detroit Publishing Co.

Trolleys, horse drawn wagons and no cars, dominate this view of 42nd street.  The building on the right is Grand Central Terminal before being completely renovated by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore. The tall building on the right past the trolley is the Hotel Manhattan (demolished c. 1962 and replaced by Sperry Hutchinson Building in 1964). In the far background in the center is The New York Times Tower Building which was opened in 1906. Continue reading