One hundred years ago, in July of 1911, reform Mayor William J. Gaynor ended tolls on New York City’s East River bridges.

As the mayor said back then, “the tolls are oppressive to many people, and inconvenient and irksome to everyone.” As Sam Roberts notes in his recent New York Times report, Gaynor thought tolls were “antithetical to civic unity.”

Gaynor was a very interesting man. I told his story in an earlier blog post that you can find here. But, just for the sake of using an extraordinary photograph again, and to pique your interest, here’s a photograph of Mayor Gaynor, just moments after he had been shot by a disgruntled city employee, in August of 1910. Gaynor died three years later from his wounds.

Mayor William Gaynor, just after he was shot, in August, 1910. This great photograph was taken by William Warnecke of the Evening World newspaper.
This bronze bust of Mayor William J. Gaynor stands in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza, near the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. In the earliest years of that bridge, pedestrians and wagons paid tolls to use the bridge.

Update: William J. Gaynor has quite a monument at Green-Wood. Up on a hill, invisible from the road, is a granite circle. It is a rare, perhaps unique, variation on the globe. Both are symbolic of eternity–they have no beginning and no end.

The inscription--just a name.
The very unusual, perhaps unique, monument.

The only writing on it is his name.


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