This Albert Stone photo shows Main and Fitzhugh, looking south along Fitzhugh Street. Pedestrians are on the sidewalks, some waiting for streetcars. Other people are crossing the brick-paved street. A policeman is directing the automobiles and wagons through the busy intersection. The Lake and Monroe trolley is approaching the intersection from the east. The color photo was taken around noontime on a weekday in July 2019 from the same approximate location and includes the Monroe County Office Building. For the history of this building, tap: https://www2.monroecounty.gov/history-cob.php
It is notable that in Mr. Stone’s photographs of these early 20th century moments, the public realm he shows us, is truly shared space. That is, each person, whether in a streetcar, a wagon, an automobile, a bicycle, or on foot has equal access to and movement in and through the public realm, the city’s public space. Today this is different.
Today, motorized vehicles have priority on all our city’s streets, whether downtown as seen here, or in the neighborhoods. All other ways of moving and sharing the space must take a back seat to motorized vehicles. This is not good for our city – not just, and not convenient unless car bound – and it has led to much destruction of the fabric of our community in favor of parking, wider streets, easier turning corners, higher speeds. Ironically, it was in the year that this photograph was likely taken that Henry Ford introduced the Model A, following the release of his first “world car” (the Model T) in 1908. Mr. Stone was to be witness to big changes in our street life in times to come.