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.

Monday, July 20, 2015

More on the Nightly Closings of Boulevard in the Village of Pelham

Last year I published a brief article on the nightly closing of Boulevard in the Village of Pelham.  See Tue., Aug. 19, 2014:  Why Is Boulevard in the Village of Pelham Closed Each Night?  In that posting, I provided a little of the fascinating history behind the nightly closings of Boulevard.  As I noted at the time, the posting was prompted by the many questions I have been asked on numerous occasions including questions such as the following.  Why is Boulevard closed each night?  Is Boulevard in the Village of Pelham a public road or a private parkway?  How long has Boulevard been closed with chains each night?  Does such a closing mean that the roadway is not public?  

Recently I located an extensive news report published in 1923 describing the night that unhappy residents near the Boulevard presented an extensive petition to the Board of what was then the Village of Pelham (today's Pelham Heights).  The account details how the rise of automobile and truck traffic on Boulevard had made the thoroughfare dangerous, noisy, and a nuisance.  The news account made clear just how angry local residents had become and how badly they wanted their local elected officials to do something about the problem.  The account is particularly significant because it reproduces the petition presented by Pelham residents in its entirety.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the news report in its entirety followed by a citation and a link to its source.  The text of the news article is a little scrambled, apparently because the newspaper inadvertently inserted editorial text within the body of its transcription of the petition.  Nevertheless, I have presented the article as it appeared.  

Detail from 1914 Map Showing Boulevard in Pelham Heights
From Wolf's Lane to Ancon Avenue. Source: "Pelham, New
Rochelle" in Bromley, G. W., Atlas of Westchester County, N.Y.
Pocket, Desk and Automobile Edition, Vol. I, p. 124 (NY, NY:
G. W. Bromley & Co., 1914).  NOTE:  Click Image To Enlarge.

"Trustees To Ascertain Sentiment Of Public About Closing Boulevard; Will Remedy Automobile Nuisance
Extra Motorcycle Policemen Detailed to See that Noisy Parties' Excessive Use of Honrs and Sirens and Speed Hogs Are Curbed As They Pass Through Village.
May Hold Public Meeting to Give Residents Opportunity to Voice Opinions on Traffic Restrictions.

The Village Board of Pelham Heights did not take any action on the petition for closing the Boulevard which was presented to it at Tuesday night's meeting, believing it best to obtain a thoroughly representative expression of opinion from the residents of the Heights before any decisive step is taken.  If necessary, a public meeting will be held at which the proposal may be thoroughly discussed.

Messrs. Harold W. Davis and Walter R. Quick of Pelham Heights presented the petition in an informal manner, stating that over one hundred signatures had been obtained for it and that only one resident had gone on record as opposed to it.  The petition follows:

To the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Pelham, New York.


We, the undersigned, taxpayers and residents of the Village of Pelham, hereby petition the Village Board, as follows:   

Automobile traffic upon and through the Boulevard Parkway has become so dense that it threatens to destory the character and purpose of this Parkway, imperil the life of pedestrians, particularly the children of the Village, and results in numerous collisions and other accidents and entails a large expense to the Village for maintenance of the roadway and policing and enforcing indispensable traffic regulations.  In spite of this policing, the residents along the Boulevard and for some distance in intersecting streets are inconvenienced by the density of the traffic in the Boulevard, and disturbed by the use of the cut-out, the incessant blowing of horns and the boisterous conduct of automobiles at all hours and particularly at night.  This traffic is principally through traffic between New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, and the class of traffic is increasing rapidly and threatens further increase by reason of the increased use of the Bronx River Parkway between the cities 

Continued on page four

Trustees To Find People's Sentiments On Boulevard Closing
(Continued from page 1)

of New York and Mount Vernon and the Hudson River Ferry between Yonkers and Alpine, New Jersey, and the increased numbers of people who make use of the Boulevard in going to and returning from the beaches and other resorts along Long Island Sound.  The Boulevard was intended ordinarily for a parkway for the use of the residents of Pelham and the gratification of the Village of Pelham, and not for the use of through traffic.  Signs have been placed in New Rochelle and at the intersection of the Kings Highway and the Boston Highway and the Post Road directing traffic to New York through Pelham Manor.  Mayor Scott has granted permission for the sign and and it will be hung as soon as it is made.

[The following paragraph appears to be "out of order" in the original article.  The petition text seems to pick up again in the paragraph following the one immediately below.]

The Board decided not to take immediate action on the proposal until they could investigater the situation and given any persons objecting to the plan an opportunity to express their opinions.  If necessary, a special meeting will be held to consider the question before the regular August meeting.  

In order to remedy the present sit- [sic - text in original disjointed and is reproduced here exactly as printed] Post Road and at the   junction of the Kings Highway and the Boulevard directing certain through traffic into and upon the Kings Highway and the Boulevard.  We therefore request the Village Board to restrict and regulate traffic upon and through the Boulevard [illegible] from some point in the Town of Pelham necessarily or most conveniently reached via the Boulevard.

2.  That the rate of speed of automobiles in and upon the Boulevard be limited to eight miles per hour;

3.  That the use of cut-outs be wholly forbidden/

4.  That the unnecessary blowing of horns be forbidden;

5.  That the Village Board confer with, or designate some person to confer with the Mayor of the City of New Rochelle in an effort to obtain the substitution of signs at the intersection of the King's Highway and the Boston Post Road and at the junction of the King's Highway and the Boulevard appropriate to deflect through traffic from the King's Highway and the Boulevard, in the place of the signs now located at those points, and to obtain the co-operation in such other manner as may be desirable, of the City of New Rochelle in the limitation and regulation of traffic upon the Boulevard;

6.  That signs appropriate to give notice of the restrictions and regulations which shall be adopted by the Village Board be placed at the junction of the Boulevard and King's Highway and at the intersection of he Boulevard and Wolf's Lane;

7.  That the Village Board prescribe such penalties for the violation of the restrictions and regulations which it shall adopt as it shall deem necessary and proper for the enforcement of such restrictions and regulations.

8.  That a traffic policeman be placed at the junction of the Boulevard and the King's Highway and another at the intersection of the Boulevard and Wolf's Lane, at such hous of the day and night as the Board shall deem necessary, for the purpose of enforcing such restrictions and regulations;

9.  That the Village Board take such other or further measures for the accomplishment of the end in view as it shall see fit.

Dated:  Pelham, July   , 1923.

Respectfully submitted,

The Board pointed out that trucking along the Boulevard already was prohibited by village ordinance and expressed the opinion that the limitation of automobile speed to eight miles an hour was impracticable on account of the hilly character of the parkway.

Walter R. Quick, in supporting the petition, congratulated the Board in the efforts put forth recently to curb the speeders who were infesting the Boulevard.  Noisy automobile parties often passing along the Boulevard in the early hours of the morning were disturbing the peace of the neighborhood, and he believed if the clsoing of the Boulevard was necessary to secure relief, then the Board should take some action toward asserting the rights of the residents in prohibiting the use of the parkway to general traffic.  

Trustee Leahy pointed out that Wolf's Lane was not in good condition to detour traffic over, and in answer to a query, Engineer Fairchild stated that the repaving of the section of Wolf's Lane between Boulevard and Colonial Avenue would not be completed for another month.  The question was raised whether the closing of the Boulevard would not cause traffic to turn off into Second Street and First Street and constitute an even greater nuisance to the residents there.

President Bunnell informed Mr. Davis that the board had complied already with one request of the petition -- to ask the permission of Mayor Scott of New Rochelle to place an electric sign at the junction of King's [sic -- the text is disjointed here apparently due to the newspaper's editing errors] uation by enforcing the village ordinances rigidly, an extra policeman will be added to the force.  The board also voted to buy a motorcycle to be used by the new policeman.

With the addition of the motorcycle officer, the village department will have three mounted officers.  Under the new system, the streets will be patrolled by one of them fro eight in the morning until lthree [sic].  Between four and twelve in the evening two motorcycles will patrol the Boulevard.

Automobile parties who make unnecessary noises at night will receive summonses to appear to anser disorderly conduct charges.  Speeders will be arrested for slight infractions of the twenty-mile speed limit ordinance.  All minor violations of law which are not strictly enforced ordinarily will be dealt with severely if they disturb the peace of the residential district.

Up to July 16th, Officers Tierney and Stanyon have made 97 arrests,"

Source:  Trustees To Ascertain Sentiment Of Public About Closing Boulevard; Will Remedy Automobile Nuisance, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 20, 1923, p. 1, cols. 6-7 & p. 4, cols. 1-3.  

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