Photo of the Week: Traffic

[Traffic congestion], circa 1920, v1973.5.1950; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Traffic congestion], circa 1920, v1973.5.1950; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The U.S. Census Bureau revealed some not-so-surprising news recently that New York City is growing, particularly the outer boroughs. This past year alone, Brooklyn grew by 16,000 inhabitants. City planners are estimating that New York City will reach the nine million mark by 2040. This is largely due to more people moving to the city and fewer people leaving. Mayor de Blasio has said of this growth, “The long-term prosperity of New York City hinges on our ability to keep pace with the housing and infrastructure demands of an ever-growing population throughout the five boroughs.”

With that in mind, the photo of the week depicts traffic congestion from around 1920 at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue. On the back of the photograph the caption reads, “Traffic Congestion such as here shown is the inevitable result of crowding of industry and population.” The period in Brooklyn between 1915 and 1920 experienced a similar surge in population when city centers attracted tens of thousands of people from more rural communities. The 1925 Census of New York pointed to “modern conveniences such as an ever increasing number of automobiles, bus and transportation lines, an important factor.”

This photograph comes from the Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection. This collection contains over 7,000 items spanning from the early to mid-20th century in Brooklyn. This collections provides a comprehensive visual documentation of Brooklyn, with over 30 Brooklyn neighborhoods documented. To view more images from this collection, check out this gallery.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

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