"Gridlock" Sam Schwartz at The Little Theatre, 2/24

"Gridlock" Sam Schwartz at The Little Theatre, 2/24

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published February 18, 2016 and can be found here.

The West Side Highway in Manhattan, opened in 1936, was the world's first elevated highway.

     By       Mike Governale

When the world's first elevated highway was completed in 1936 along Manhattan's west side, the New York Times marveled that "the gleaming new concrete ribbon" would let drivers travel from lower Manhattan "nearly to Poughkeepsie without having to stop for a traffic light or slow up for an intersection." Legendary city planner and master highway builder, Robert Moses promised the new highway would "eliminate" traffic jams on the city's west side...

In 1973, a sixty-foot stretch of the road deck collapsed, swallowing a tractor trailer.

   By the 1950s the West Side Highway was becoming outdated and deferred maintenance was taking its toll. In 1973, a sixty-foot stretch of the road deck collapsed, swallowing a tractor trailer.

The closure of this major artery along the Hudson River should have resulted in chaos for the city's transportation system. It didn't.

A young NYC traffic engineer, Samuel Schwartz, noted how traffic seemed to disappear after the closure of the highway.

   A young traffic engineer working in the city's department of transportation at the time, Samuel Schwartz was assigned to measure the impact of the highway closure on nearby city streets. To his amazement, all of the car traffic--some 80,000 vehicles per day--seemed to disappear.

People figured out they could get around using the existing transportation system. The elevated highway was not rebuilt.

Sam Schwartz (left) went on to become NYCDOT's chief engineer during the 1980s.

   Schwartz would eventually go on to become New York City's traffic commissioner and the New York City Department of Transportation's chief engineer during the 1980s. And he would take the lesson of the West Side Highway with him while shaping transportation policy in New York City during that time.

Today the West Side Highway is no longer a barrier for people to cross the street between the city and the waterfront. [IMAGE: haruko16, Flickr.com]

   Today, the West Side Highway is no longer a barrier for people to cross the street between the city and the waterfront. It's dismantling paved the way for the removal of other urban highways after it; from the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, to Rochester's own Inner Loop.

And this is just one of many stories you can ask Sam Schwartz about when he's here in Rochester next week.

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Sam Schwartz will give a speak at The Little Theatre this Wednesday.

On Wednesday, February 24, Reconnect Rochester will bring transportation expert Samuel Schwartz to Rochester for a free lecture and discussion.

   "Gridlock" Sam (as he's known because he coined the term) is one of the leading transportation experts in the United States today. He is currently a columnist at the New York Daily News. And his firm, Sam Schwartz Engineering, has recently produced     a plan

external link

for the redesign of East Main Street here in Rochester.

In his new book,     Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars

external link

, Sam chronicles the history of urban transportation in America. He recounts his own personal experiences, from growing up in Brooklyn during the 1950s, to working as a New York City cab driver, and then his professional career planting the seeds of change from within the New York City Department of Transportation.

Event Details:

DATE: Wednesday, February 24
   TIME: 6:30 - 8:30 P.M.
   LOCATION: The Little Theatre

Lecture and Q&A will be followed by a book signing.

Join the Facebook event

external link

For Tickets:

Simply make a tax-deductible contribution to     Reconnect Rochester    . Give what you can. Seats are limited so     donate online

external link

to reserve your spot today...

Suggested donation at the door: $5-$15.

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Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA