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Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Conveyor Belt-Times Square-Grand CentralImage via NYCVintage

In August, we showed you Alfred Speer’s proposal for a moving sidewalk high above Broadway in the 1870s. Though never installed, the idea was still in people’s minds 80 years later. In 1951, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company proposed a conveyor belt system with clear gondola-like cars that would have taken 60,000 riders daily between Grand Central and Times Square on unused shuttle tracks, hoping to ease the traffic congestion problem on New York City streets. It claimed it could transport people “about a third faster than the crowds transported now by the shuttle trains under 42nd Street.” The system was tested to make sure it could accommodate “women wearing high heels, shoppers with both arms loaded with bundles, and physically handicapped persons.”

The New York Board of Transportation went as far as to allocate $3.8 million of the capital budget in 1953 for its installation. Only a few months later, the budget director recommended against spending for transportation or hospital projects. The Bend Bulletin reported, “Whether [New York] City will be one of the first if not the first to use a conveyor belt for transporting human beings remains therefore to be seen.”

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