Baltimore Evening Sun (19 November 1913): 6.


Advice to the Hon. William H. Anderson: Beware of the Hon. Lloyd Wilkinson!

Advice to the Hon. Lloyd Wilkinson: Beware of the Hon. William H. Anderson!

No one seems to have paid any attention to the Hon. Joseph Packard’s argument against costly and useless public improvements, printed as an Evening Sun editorial two or three weeks ago. I do not wonder. In these days of the uplift, such prudent and honest men as the Hon. Mr. Packard do not hold the public ear. That large and flapping member is caught in a vice-like grip by the Munyons, the Goldsboroughs and the Dashing Harrys, and into it they pour an endless stream of words. And the more nonsensical those words, the more they caress and enchant the cochlear filaments.

The particular target of the Hon. Mr. Packard’s attack was the mania for widening streets. To hear the rabble-rousers discourse upon this subject one would fancy that most of the downtown streets of Batimore were blocked with traffic from dawn to dark--that it is a practical impossibility to get a wagon through in less than a day. But, as every intelligent man must know, this is not true at all. Wherever and whenever the streets are actually blocked--and it really happens but seldom--the blame rests upon ineffective traffic rules. As the Hon. Mr. Packard pointed out, the problem might be solved at one stroke and no expense by the simple device of forbidding idle wagons to stand along the curbs. Why, indeed, should the community furnish stable room to wagon owners? Why should horses be fed on the public streets?

But even so, the streets of Baltimore are far less crowded than those of most other cities. There is four times as much traffic on lower Broadway in New York as on Baltimore street, and the street is no wider, and yet it all gets through. And in Boston, with all of the main streets much narrower than ours, the situation is very easily handled by adequate traffic regulations. The thing that a Baltimorean always notices on coming home from other cities is the smallness of the crowds on our streets. A man might walk along Baltimore street, from Eutaw to Gay street, even in the so-called rush hour, without once bumping elbows with another pedestrian. And a wagon might conceivably make the journey without a mingle halt.

Many of the Boston streets, narrower than Baltimore street, or even than German street, carry a vastly larger traffic. For example, Tremont, Winter and Washington streets, and Summer street down to the South Station. What is more, all of these streets are crooked. Winter street proceeds as drunkenly as our own Lexington street and is twice as crowded. Washington street describes a grand curve. Tremont street is zigzag and hilly. And yet the Bostonians manage to travel and do business in spite of these impediments, and no one talks of tearing down whole blocks of houses to make more room.

But here in Baltimore there seems to be a mania for street widening and street opening. At the time of the fire a large amount of money was spent upon such enterprises, some of them prudent and useful, but more of them merely grandiose. The present immense width of Light street, between Pratt and Baltimore, shows how far the thing went. The old Light street, of course, was a narrow alley, and it was sensible to widen it, but why make a boulevard of it? Look at it today: the heaviest traffic is lost upon it.

So with North Hanover street and the Courthouse Plaza. The former was opened in order to relieve the traffic on Sharp and Charles streets. But is it doing so? Go and see for yourself. Traffic from the north still gets into Hanover street by way of Baltimore street, and it could do so just as well before North Hanover street was opened. As for the Courthouse Plaza, it is now a sort of free garage for automobiles, after nine years’ service as a storage lot for sand and Belgian blocks. Why should the city park automobiles free? Why not make their owners patronize garages, as is done in all other civilized cities? The majority of these cars belong to residents of the county who are in business in the city. They stand before the Courthouse all day–an eyesore and a nuisance.

Here we come back to the Hon. Mr. Packard, who made a protest against such bucolic customs in his article. Does any other city of more than 50,000 inhabitants allow teamsters to feed their horses on the main streets? I doubt it. Faring into western Maryland lately, I found that even Frederick was beginning to make war upon the practice. But, as Mr. Packard showed, most of Baltimore’s genuine traffic troubles are due to just such silurian survivals. Why not force all idle teams out of the way? And if their owners object to paying for stabling, why not furnish free stables for them? Certainly that would be better than the present custom of using the streets.

After six years of steady work as a “rescuer” of prostitutes, the Hon. A. W Elliott, president of the Southern Rescue Mission at Jacksonville, Fla., frankly throws up his hands. During the all years he has come in contact with 15,000 such women, and to all of them he has offered help. But out of the whole lot he has saved but one! Says Mr. Elliott:

I have no reason whatever to lie about the matter. I feel that I am in honor bound to confess the truth. * * * I do not think that it is right for the public to be exploited by this, that and the other organization under the pretense that these organizations could save any appreciable number of women if they had the funds.

It would be difficult, I dare say, to find a single police captain, magistrate, or newspaper reporter in the United States who would not agree with Mr. Elliott, and yet the collection of funds proceeds apace, and innumerable professional moralists devote themselves to just such futile and childish endeavors. Here in Baltimore, for example, a woman wiskinski is now going about collecting money for the Rev. Dr. Kenneth G. Murray’s bastile for “reformed” prostitutes on Lanvale street. That bastile has already had its chance and proved its pathetic usefulness. And yet the sentimental are once more asked to help it, and many of them, I suppose, are responding liberally.

Baltimore is rapidly filling up with affecting vice-presidents. The Hon. Charles J. Bonaparte, LL. D., is vice-president of the Pentz Society; the Hon. Isaac L. Straus, LL.B., is vice-president of the Anti-Vivistectionist Chautauqua, and the Hon. Dashing Harry is vice-president of the Calvert Bank, and came within 7,000,000 votes of getting a similar job in Washington.