Deadman’s Curve, According to the Trolly

In Grace’s Pictures Owen witnesses a terrible accident at Deadman’s Curve in Manhattan. While these events are fictional, I did not make up Deadman’s Curve. Here it is:

It was located on the southwest corner of Union Square at Fourteenth Street and Broadway, and as you can see, the trolley tracks had a sharp bend here. At the turn of the century this busy area would see many terrible accidents. It wasn’t that the cars picked up speed, but rather that they ran at a constant speed that was fine for straight paths, sometimes perilous for turns, and downright dangerous for a curve like this.

And as this magazine cover depicts, it was a busy place for pedestrians. It’s been said that folks used to sit in clubs at windows overlooking Union Square and make bets over how many people would be hurt and/or thrown from the next trolley.

 The Statue of Abraham Lincoln stood looking over many accidents scenes until it was moved in the 1930s, but about 1907 most of the trolley tracks were removed and the intersection saw fewer mishaps. A new Deadman’s Curve, however, took its place near Madison Square.

Traffic has always been a problem in New York, dating back to a time when there weren’t even any automobiles. I suppose the antiquity of the city’s streets and the rapidly growing population made that inevitable. The subway was being planned at the time of my stories, and of course we all know how essential that was and is. The elevated trains came down and the city was safer for pedestrians.

The Good Ole Days, right? 🙂

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