I'm not sure why but I love watching this video. Perhaps it's the surprise of real video footage in 1906 or maybe it's the casual way in which automobiles, horses-and-carriages, trolleys, and pedestrians mix.
I found the following passage about horse-and-carriage traffic jams in A New Republic: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century by John Lukacs at Google Books.
Had the automobile not been invented and put into mass production, the cities of the early twentieth century would have experienced even worse traffic jams of horse-drawn carriages, with entire armies of poor sweepers required to clean the streets of mountains of horse droppings at night. Traffic jams in the great cities of the world preceded automobile traffic jams by half a century at least. Traffic counts taken at a fashionable thoroughfare in Paris at the beginning and at the end of the grossly inflated era of the Second Empire [1852-1870] showed a nearly threefold increase of carriages in twenty years. Around 1900 many of the main thoroughfares of American cities were as crowded as they are now, by horse-drawn carriages and trolley cars.
No more wondering if there were pre-automobile traffic jams. I don't know of any ancestors who lived in large cities so perhaps they didn't have the experience of traffic jams or horse-and-carriage accidents. As for me, I have seen accidents where cars with their metal and fiberglass frames were crashed and crushed and people were hurt. Imagine the challenges involved when horses were involved.
I also found this brief video of horse and cart traffic in Central London in the 1890s (better viewed at the Huntley Archives website where the film isn't overshadowed by the watermark in the background).
Traffic jams and rush-hour traffic aren't fun, especially when the traffic slows to 5 or 10 miles/hour but I have to admit that we have traffic laws that make our roads seem much safer than those shown in the two videos above. And even when the traffic slows, I'm probably going at the speed of a horse-drawn carriage. All things considered, I'll take today's automobiles for my 20-mile drive with their comfort and speed, even at the occasional 10 miles/hour, over a daily commute in a carriage behind a horse.
How about you?
Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.