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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
January 4, 1900

The support of President Guggenheimer for any worthy cause can be looked for with a high degree of confidence.  We are glad he has taken up the proposal to restrict the traffic on Fifth Avenue so as to make the Park more easily accessible than it has heretofore been to the only vehicles which are allowed to enter it at allm

This is the point of the whole matter.  Fifth Avenue is the only avenue to the Park from the south which is available to or used by the carriages which carry the daily or frequent visitors to the Park itself.  The owners of "trotting rigs" make some use of Eighth Avenue, in spite of the car tracks which incumber the surface of that as they do of every other avenue, Fifth only excepted.  But only a small proportion of carriages take that route.  The majority take the avenue, which has been kept free from car tracks on purpose to be used as a place for parades.  We have once or twice a year a civic or military parade which employs and monopolizes the avenue.  But we have every day a parade of equipages which is very well worth seeing.  This fully employs and during the hours of its passage ought to be allowed to monopolize the avenue.  There are enough of pleasure vehicles using it for this legitimate purpose to bring the procession down to a slow pace, even if there were no other vehicles allowed on it.  If we allow business wagons and trucks to lumber along it at their convenience, in order to gratify their drivers with a sight of the procession, the congestion becomes, as it has long since become, intolerable and dangerous.

There is absolutely no more reason why these vehicles should be allowed to interfere with the procession on its way to or from the Park than why they should be allowed to join it in the Park itself.  Such an interference would destroy all the pleasure of driving in the Park as well as of watching the driving, which gives pleasure to a much larger number than those who occupt the carriages.  It was long ago ascertained that the owners of the wagons and trucks driven in the avenue would readily acquiesce in the exclusion.  It is for the pleasure of the drivers alone that they are permitted to occupy the avenue.  That is to say, the pleasure of a certain number of persons who are driving on business is to be permitted to destroy the pleasure of ten times as many persons who are driving for pleasure.  And this is the notion some demagogues entertain of "democracy."

Mr. Guggenheimer's resolution, introduced into the Council, embodies the "irreducible minimum" of the of the consideration that ought to be given to the pleasure drivers, and to those who watch them, on the one avenue where there is any pretense of giving them any consideration at all.  If its author succeeds in getting it enacted he will have performed a public service and will have earned the gratitude of his fellow citizens.

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