In New York and in other large cities where the streets are crowded with vehicles, the crossing of streets by foot pi s-sengers is attended with danger and inconvenience. " Good clothes" stand no chance in muddy weather, or more properly speaking, they stand an excellent chance of being spoiled by bespatterings of filth. But it is one thing to point out a disease and quite another thing to prescribe a remedy. In this case it must be a specif ic—applicable to every case and a sure cure. We have tried the elevated bridge in New York and have given it up for the best of reasons. It would not answer. Some have suggested the tunnel as a substitute, but this appears to us to be only inverting the evil. In the first case, it is climb up and then down, in the latter, it is first down, and then up. People with sound legs prefer to take the risk on the surface, and to encounter the fire of mud pellets rather than to execute the climbing, while those with weak legs find themselves unequal to two long flights every time they wish to cross a street, preferring to be taken in charge by some friendly M. P., and piloted to the opposite shore. What is to be done 1 Can anybody make a practical suggestion? Don't all speak at once, or quote from Hamlet's soliloquy Rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of." Is this problem so intricate that its solution is not possible ? Is there not among all the list of mechanical contrivances— turn-tables, flying machines, wire tramways, cranes, swings, and what not—something that will take a human body up and set it down safely across a mud river 1 Make answer, inventive genius. Is a street crossing harder to be accomplished than an ocean cable, or a railroad to the top of Mount Washington 1 For ourselves, we are better at recording and writing up others' inventions than making them ourselves, and therefore we are in no hurry to try our hand at inventing a new street crossing; but we shall rejoice if some of our readers can immortalize themselves by giving to the world this long sought for and prayed for desideratum. We see by the last number of the London Builder that steel bridges for the crossings in that city are talked of. We hope they may like them when they get them, but whether made of steel or iron, stone or wood, New York has had enough of the bridges. The bridges proposed are to span the streets eighteen feet above the carriage way, which at the lowest computation, would make 48 steps up and down, a most agreeable thing to contemplate for weak knees in hot weather, or when the steps are covered with ice. Some have suggested that if these bridges were built the people would not use them. We have had it demonstrated that they would not, and if the Londoners are wise, they will take a leaf from our experience and drop all further consideration of bridge crossings. Nevertheless, bridges may not cost quite so much in London as did our Fulton street bridge, and the proposed experiment may be less expensive than ours was.
This article was originally published with the title "The Street Crossing Question" in Scientific American 21, 11, 169 (September 1869)