Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Orleans Traffic 1927

In 1927, New Orleans boasted a population of some 428,000 people. The city evidenced a 6.79 ratio of population to automobile ownership, compared to Milwaukee, Wisconsin's estimated 4.18 and Seattle, Washington's 4.68. Increasing vehicular traffic resulted in commuter congestion problems, as well as an elevated number of personal injury reports. Between 1925 and 1927, the vast majority of New Orleans' personal injury accidents involved a motorized vehicle and a pedestrian. Some 2,000 pedestrians were injured in accidents involving motorized vehicles (see chart above).

The city retained the services of Miller McClintock (†1960), then director of the Albert Russel Erskine Bureau for Street Traffic Research (housed on the top floor of Harvard University's Widener Library), and St. Louis urban planner Harland Bartholomew (1889-1989) to conduct a comprehensive study of traffic problems and to propose solutions. The team's resultant work, The Street Traffic Control Problem of the City of New Orleans (November 1928), was based on extensive field observations and cartographic reporting.

McClintock and Bartholomew lauded the city's role as the first "to take formal recognition of the changed status between pedestrians and motor vehicles in its regulations and ordinances" but lamented that "there has not been a stricter enforcement of these provisions and that other cities which have copies [sic] similar regulations have been more successful in their application." (1) To rectify this problem, the team proposed enhanced regulations and ordinances, administrative reorganization and better selection and supervision of traffic division police personnel.

Read more in the Southeastern Architectural Archive. . .

(1)Miller McClintock and Harland Bartholomew. The Street Traffic Control Problem of the City of New Orleans (November 1928), p. 177. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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