Image by Geoffrey Dunbar

Fatality #1 – Henry Bliss

In London I went to the Cheshire Cheese because Charles Dickens ate there. In Havana I went to the Bodeguita del Medio because Hemingway drank mojitos there. In Paris I went to le Cave Auge because Proust shopped there. Except for le Cave Auge (I recommend you check out their huge selection of brandy), there is little else noteworthy, so, in New York? 74th and Central Park West because poor old Henry Bliss died there. No other reason. Mr Bliss was the first ever pedestrian traffic fatality involving a motor vehicle. Henry, hit by a hack — an electrically driven hack at that.

He had just stepped off a street car.

It was Wednesday, September 13, 1899. Henry was a realtor, of which there must have been thousands in New York. Now, there is a plaque (for years I never found it so I think a new one must have been recently installed), a stripe-painted crosswalk, and a countdown pedestrian crossing light all in order to deter unwitting Bliss copycats. It was not the first ever traffic death, but it was the first in the United States.

So when you go to see the Dakota apartment building at 73rd and Columbus, say a prayer for John, then check out 74th, and say a prayer for Henry.

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Details about this spot



1 West 74, New York

Opening Times

24 hours daily


Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)