Street Car Etiquette

Fifth Avenue, New York City. Post Card from 1907.

I’ve been working on book 2, “Echo HIll and Mountain Grove.” The following tongue-in-cheek article was taken from a newspaper clipping in my great-grandmother Mary Ann Eldred Austin’s scrapbook. I think it may be from the late 1800s.

A few hints, boiled down, the observance of which will tend to promote the comfort and welfare of that large class of fellow-sufferers who are obliged to spend from thirty minutes to two hours of each day in those necessary evils called street-cars.

Gentle hint No. 1 and of importance first:
Always chew tobacco when riding. If you have not acquired that most elegant habit, do so at once, or you will thereby lose one of the best opportunities of showing your independence and utter disregard of the decencies of life, and of your neighbors’ clothes.

No. 2
Never give up your seat to anyone, especially to ladies, thereby showing that
you were brought up with a proper regard of your own importance and comfort.

Should you have a weakness in that respect, however, and should you wish to
give up your seat to a lady, be particular that she is young, good-looking and
well dressed, and always select the time when some poor washer-woman or
tired shop-girl has been hanging on the strap in front of you for half an hour
or more. you will thus show that you have a proper regard for what is due to
the different classes in society.

No. 3
When standing, always take the first seat vacated. Never mind the ladies; they
can do the same. You know your rights; take them. Sit down like a man, and if you have a paper become immediately absorbed. Take no notice of any little mean remarks that may be made by those around you—you might get kicked out of the car if you did.

No. 4
Should a good-looking girl be seated anywhere near you, that is alone, (be particular about that), stare at her—they like it—and it may lead to—personals in the Herald, which object and end should be your highest ambition.

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One Response to Street Car Etiquette

  1. melva says:

    Am enjoying this again and again. Seems that there are many riding NYC buses and subways who still follow these etiquette “tips”. Gotta love tradition!

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