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Traffic Peril

March 18, 2011

There’s some real gold in the Brooklyn Public Library’s online photograph collection, especially for transportation geeks.  I’ve posted some beautiful shots before of Prospect Park West and Grand Army plaza from the turn of the 20th century, but I recently dug into the BPL archives and found some telling pictures from later days.

Here’s one from a 1951 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle:

Note the streetcar tracks and overhead wires.  Here’s the caption:

Traffic peril — A view of Grand Army Plaza which is giving traffic engineers a headache trying to solve the heavily traveled circle’s numerous traffic problems caused chiefly by the number of streets running into it.

It’s amazing to see where we are now compared to Truman-era concerns — it’s a backwards evolution from “Traffic peril” to “Bike Bedlam.”

Here’s one from 1954:

And here’s the caption:

Endless parade — Hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks — both moving and parked — which glut Brooklyn streets have long stumped traffic experts. At upper left, homeward-bound motorists completely fill western half of Grand Army Plaza during evening rush hour.

Look how small the inside of the circle is compared to the completely accessible circle of older shots, how close the cars are to the arch, and how soot-covered it is.  Just another one of those pesky negative externalities for you.

Even though GAP still handles voluminous levels of traffic, it looks nothing like the GAP of these pictures.  Over years and through the city has tried many different approaches to moving cars.  History has always been a concern, but it’s never completely trumped the need to better manage traffic.

One Comment
  1. March 25, 2011 9:56 pm

    That picture is what heaven looks like to Hainline and Carswell.

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