Thursday, July 14, 2011

Demand for a Road to Coney - 1849

This honestly sounded to me like a satire on silly women to me, at first, but it turns out the writer appears to be arguing that there needs to be a good, free road to Coney Island.....unless it's the most extensive satire I've seen yet.

MR. EDITOR.--On visiting Coney Island a few days ago, to snuff for a time, the ocean breezes, and to rid myself of the pent up air of the city, I was suddenly placed in the midst of a company who had just reached the Island, from the cities of New York and Brooklyn. The party, on alighting from their vehicles, were in apparently great uneasiness. There was a great consternation among the ladies, in reference to their dresses, which had been thoroughly sprinkled with salt water, in wading the causeway to the Coney Island bridge ; and there was just as anxious an inquiry, whether salt water would stain and spoil fine silks and shawls, and other articles of dress, as was formerly on foot, whether salt petre would explode. But the soiled and sponged dresses were not the only spectacle. The carriages, harness and trappings of the horses, exhibited a sad appearance. The labor of the coachman and the stable keeper, was completely obscured by the thick coat of black sand which covered them : adhereing (sic), in consequence of the depth of water through which they were obligated to pass and wade. And it is to be recollected that for the privilege of being in this state, each vehicle of the party were taxed with the enormous toll of three shillings; and in one case four shillings.--Now Mr. Editor, as one of the great public, I would ask, is not this a great imposition on those who visit our sea-coast to obtain the benefit of the sea-air. I should have here added, that as we were sympathising with each other upon our situation, a gentleman stepped up, and by way of consolation, told us that certain gentlemen of your city had been appointed to lay out a road to Coney Island or to some point in Gravesend, the township in which the island is situated. Ought they not to run the road to the island, so that the public at large can enjoy its benefits ? I trust that the commissioners on that road may have their eyes steadily fixed on the public good, regardless of private interest or the franchises and privileges of a chartered company--excepting so far as they do not conflict with the great public interests. That they will reflect that the small country towns, with their mere handfull of inhabitants, are not the only persons to be consulted, but will bear in mind that there are hundreds, nay thousands, in the cities above mentioned, who seek the ocean air at Coney Island. And I would further suggest whether the commissioners should not consider--whether the breezes of the free ocean, admitted to be free to all, ought not to be enjoyed without paying tribute to an unincorporated company, who for a quarter of a century have been preying on the community ? This, Mr. Editor, may be strong language, but you will say it is justifiable when you look at the state of the causeway, which is not only uncomfortable and annoying to travel upon, but decidedly injurious to the property of the traveller and passer by.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, August 22, 1849

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