SEPTEMBER 20, 1949
NEW YORK, Monday—We came back to New York City last night for the briefing sessions of the United States delegation, which began at the U.S. Mission office at 2 Park Avenue this morning. There are new faces on the delegation and new subjects to be studied, so we were asked to put the day aside for a morning and afternoon session. Tomorrow we will begin by opening at Flushing, and I imagine there will be a day or two of general speeches before we start on committee work.
One thing that impresses me as I return to the city is the congestion of the New York City traffic. It seems worse than it was last spring. I was glad to read in the papers that a commission has been appointed to study the problem, though I was under the impression that this had been under study for some time.
I was also glad to read that a parking authority had been named, for that is certainly a major consideration. I came along a street clearly marked "no parking," yet cars were parked on both sides, end to end. It is perfectly evident if parking areas are not convenient they are of very little use to people who want to use their own cars in town.
I asked a taxicab driver if he thought it would help if all trucks loaded and unloaded at night and were not allowed on the street in the day time. He seemed to feel that would create great hardships. If you forbid all private cars from circulating freely in the city, even if you have avenues that are only one way, the retail store people are upset because it makes it difficult for their customers to reach their doors. The present situation, however, keeps people moving so slowly that I think a brisk walker could cover the ground just as quickly during the congested hours.
Perhaps one way to solve this question would be to turn all the roofs into landing spots for helicopters. Then I suppose the air would become so congested we would be having air traffic accidents all the time. Perhaps we should have to have raised avenues or subways under our avenues and under the main crosstown streets.
It is, of course, easily understood that the difficulty in New York City is geographical. The island is only so wide and so long. As more and more people have come to live on it and work in the area, the normal moving around that must be done has increased to this present impossible condition.
I see no easy solution to the city's traffic snarl, but I think it is something on which we should ask the engineers to move fairly quickly. It is having a distinctly regrettable effect upon the tempers of the New York City citizens. They are becoming rude and critical of one another, complaining if you go too fast or too slowly. Anyone who dares to impede traffic for one minute is sure to be assailed on every side. We do not take lightly anything that delays us in the United States. That has always been considered an American virtue, but it may become one of our failings!