Horse Car, Trolley, And Subway | The Cambridge Historical Society.
Private vehicles versus public transit, c.1881:
“[T]he main theme of those who opposed the Charles River scheme was that street railways interfered with driving. Opposition on narrow Inman Street was particularly strong: “Grant the location through this street, and we cannot have a carriage stop at our doors,” said Theodore C. Kurd. Magazine Street was wider, but L. H. Sanborn still protested : “I think the driving public of Cambridge and the vicinity should have a little show for themselves. … The driving public want one avenue to get out of Ward Four without any interruption.” H. Roberts said that Oxford Street was “the only avenue where there is not a track, and the only street, it seems to me, where we can really drive with any safety.” Linn B. Porter, editor and owner of the Cambridge Chronicle, said that the plan to put tracks on Mount Auburn Street “proposes to ruin the one long avenue to the cemeteries which is now free from obstruction; and whom will this line accommodate? … the poorest part of the population … where a street railway is about the only thing they don’t need.”
A sense of civic duty is injected:
“”The fair-minded Colonel Higginson, who lived on Buckingham Street and personally preferred not to have rails on Mount Auburn Street because of inconvenience in driving, made a balanced statement in the later hearing: “I think horse cars almost always injure a street…. But so few people own vehicles, and so many people travel by horse cars, that the convenience of the few in that respect ought to be sacrificed to the public good.””
The good colonel also takes a swipe at Harvard men:
“Higginson spoke of his experience coming home to Cambridge in the late afternoon when he was in the Legislature: “Of those one hundred days, be they more or less, when I rode out in a Cambridge horse-car, I never once had a seat; never. Not on a solitary occasion did I have a seat all the way from Bowdoin Square to Harvard Square. The pressure upon the cars was so great, and the natural courtesy of members of the Legislature towards ladies is so great, that somebody always had to stand up, and I found myself always that somebody. I noticed that the young gentlemen of the University were often wearied by their excessive devotion to athletic exercises, and were not able to stand up to make room for ladies; and consequently I, not being directly in the athletic line, was able to do it.””