Sunday, March 24, 2019

At the Dawn of the Age of the Automobile

Today, issues of pedestrian safety and the need for automobiles to share our streets with cyclists and pedestrians are frequent topics of conversation. A hundred years ago, when our car culture was still in its infancy, the Columbia Republican published an editorial on March 18, 1919, about traffic safety and the need to enforce traffic laws--particularly speed laws. The editorial was apparently inspired by the front-page account of a three-year-old girl who was injured when she ran across Warren Street, just above Fourth Street, in front of an oncoming streetcar and into the path of a motorcar. The newspaper described the accident in this way:

Reading the editorial, one wonders what the traffic laws in Hudson were in 1919. Traffic lights, as we know them today, hadn't been invented yet, and there seemed not to have been stop signs. Instead, it seems, drivers were expected to announce their approach to an intersection by blowing a whistle or sounding a horn. One thing is clear, however: then as now, according to § 305-7 of the city code, cars parked along the side of the street had to be headed in the direction of lawful traffic.



  1. On many occasions I have seen cars parked facing the wrong way on Short Street by the library between the alley and State Street. I don't know if they think Short Street is a one-way street or if they are too lazy to turn around. I noticed it more after the parking spaces were marked. (Maybe people are just so used to parking lot spaces that they can park as long as they're between the lines.)
    It creates hazard when they pull out in front of cars coming around the corner from State Street.

  2. Evidence of the increasing dominance of Hudson's car culture AND the further deterioration of civilization: A new auto parts store is opening soon on Fairview literally a stone's throw from the existing one at the entrance to the new Shop Rite. That will make three on Fairview plus NAPA just off Fairview, all within a mile of one another in Greenport. Gotta have a car in this land of milk and honey.