Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/777

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

bert elevated railway, a panic seized the street railway companies. They did not disappear in a night as the stages did, but they one and all began building the small "bobtail" cars—now happily, in New York city at least, illegal—which ran without a conductor, the passenger on entering being exhorted by signs at every turn to put his money in a box, first asking the driver to supply him with change up to two dollars, if necessary, in an envelope, while Providence took care of the horses. The Sixth Avenue line went further and constructed a couple of enormous two-story cars, which it ran up and down its Sixth Avenue line, to claim the air above as well as the earth beneath, and so to make the Gilbert elevated railway and its constructors trespassers. The present writer remembers well the ridicule this move excited, and how a daily illustrated newspaper (the only daily which in those days dared to print a picture) published a picture of one of these huge arks with the second story lettered in capitals, "Law offices of ——, —— & ——!" (being the then firm of attorneys which represented the Sixth Avenue Railway in its fight with the elevated road, and was supposed to have advised the futile demonstration). The laugh was still louder at the Sixth Avenue surface line, however, when it developed that the "Gilbert" elevated, from Carmine Street to Central Park, called for a track elevation on Sixth Avenue which actually cleared by a few feet the highest point of the "double decker" or two-story cars which they had built to assert their title a œelo ad orcum! (a right which, while undoubtedly inhering in the owner of a fee, may perhaps be questionable as accompanying a street-car franchise, especially in a city where the people and not the city own the streets)! Well, the elevated railways remained. Not only did they not decrease the revenues of the surface roads, but the surface roads were obliged to build more cars! Human beings are queer freight! And it was about an equation of the long-distance passenger who rode to the Battery, or the passenger on the lesser routes who in a day or two grew tired of climbing stairways and took the surface roads in preference! The marvelous growth of the city did the rest No doubt the Sixth Avenue surface road wished that it had the million dollars it had spent in fighting the elevated railway back in its pocket. And now, not only are there scores of surface roads in New York city which feel no inconvenience from the elevated railroads, but there is actually another stage line while trolley lines are being projected without number to parallel the surface roads, the elevated roads are projecting extensions and there is at least one subway railway which is reaching out for capital. But what would be a subway except another conduit along which the trolley should string its local wires?

Nor will this adventurer, before which everything succumbs.