This is the southwest corner of Union Square in the year 1906. At the time, the intersection was named “Dead Man’s Curve” because of the frequent cable car accidents. Known as the “Union of Avenues,” Union Square was the site where cable cars traveling from avenues travel through. Operators would speed up at this curve in order to catch the cable line and prevent the car from stalling. The thousands of pedestrians that have always been present in Union Square posed a major problem for this transportation practice and, unfortunately, deaths were frequent.
In this photo you can also see the statue of Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln statue, a work by Henry Kirke Brown, originally stood at this site surrounded by an austere bronze fence when it was erected in 1870. With the Square’s dramatic redesign in the 1930s, Lincoln was moved from the street corner to the northern end of the park, where he still stands today.
The Union Square Partnership brings free weekly historical tours of Union Square, with this history and more, every Saturday in the park. Tours meet at the Lincoln Statue at 2 PM.