Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

The car took its first American life 112 years ago today

September 13, 2011 - 12:50 PM
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New York in the 1890s. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Henry Bliss, a Manhattan real-estate salesman, became the first American to die by car more than a century ago on this day. Wired offers a fuller account of how a taxi hit him and "knocked him unconscious, crushing his skull and chest" in 1899. Bliss died by the next morning, and the driver was initially charged with manslaughter, though the charges were dropped.

1899 was still such a new time for cars. As I mentioned in my own post about the first woman driver in D.C., our city had just begun to require drivers' licenses. Our modern sense of traffic laws had yet to emerge. Death was inevitable in such an environment full of so many vulnerabilities.

As a fan of transit history, I wanted to spotlight today's significance.

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