Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, April 30, 2010

"Truly, An Illuminating Little Passage in the History of New-York!" - Efforts to Develop Shore Road Trolley Line in 1897

Recently I wrote a brief posting on efforts to develop a trolley line on Shore Road in 1897.  See Wed., April 28, 2010:  Efforts by the Pelham Park Horse Railroad to Expand and Develop a Trolley Car Line on Shore Road in 1897.

I have located another couple of references to the incident.  One notes that the line was unlikely to be built and described the whole affair as "Truly, an illuminating little passage in the history of New-York!"  The second is a one sentence reference indicating that a court injunction was issued forbidding the Mayor and Aldermen from taking any further action in the matter.  I have transcribed the articles below.


It now appears probable that the franchise granted on Thursday for a surface railroad through Pelham Bay Park and along the shore road will be made inoperative by the refusal of the Park Board to give its consent to the grab.  It is desirable, nevertheless, to say that the action of the Aldermen was a signally indecent exhibition of infidelity to public interests and of contempt for public opinion.  The resolutions bestowing a rich gift on persons who have not yet been identified, but are obviously in close touch with Tammany Hall, were rushed through with little more discussion than was necessary to afford a chance for discovering and removing flaws which might have impaired their value.  The whole procedure was in flat contradiction of the professions and promises concerning public franchises on which Tammany candidates were elected on November 2, and a rank violation of the policy which the new charter embodies.  The plain, undisputed purpose was to get ahead of the charter if possible, and cheat the city for the benefit of individuals with a pull.  The job is altogether fit to be compared with that which was put through in Brooklyn the day before, and which within twenty-four hours ran up against an injunction.  Perhaps in our case an obstacle of that sort is not needed or available, but by some means the business ought to be stopped, and it is gratifying to believe that the Park Board has the power and will to stop it.

There is no conceivable motive for such a performance which is not discreditable.  The only reason for such haste is found in the fact that the days when such a thing can be done are almost past.  There is not a single citizen of New-York who doubts that the provision of the new charter limiting the bestowal of franchises is a good thing for the city, however it may affect the private interests and calculations of individuals.  Every Alderman who voted for this Pelham Park Railroad scheme knows that he betrayed the public welfare in so doing.  'How do you reconcile this with your platform about municipal ownership?' asked Alderman Hall.  'That is easy enough to answer,' remarked Alderman Goodman, who also voted against the resolution; 'the election is over.'  'You bet the election is over,' said Alderman Noonan; 'you fellows on the other side ought to know that.'  Truly, an illuminating little passage in the history of New-York!"

Source:  The Aldermen Hard At It, New-York Daily Tribune, Dec. 2, 1897, p. 6, col. 2.

The following brief reference indicates that a few days later, a court injunction was issued in the matter.

"CITY AND SUBURBAN.--An injunction was served upon the Mayor and Aldermen restraining them from taking action in the Pelham Park Railroad matter. . . . "

Source:  City and Suburban, New-York Daily Tribune, Dec. 8, 1897, p. 8, col. 1.

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