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October 12, 2013

Infrastructure, social growth made news in October 1888

If one could quickly describe Oneonta in October 1888, it would be that the village was experiencing growing pains. By looking through the pages of a recently started daily newspaper, The Oneonta Daily News, the news and some debates made it quite clear the growth had its effects on daily life. 

Only a few months earlier, Oneonta’s first trolley service had started. A year before that, there had been many naysayers about plans for such a trolley, arguing that it would not pay.  By the time the service started, there still were a few, but The Daily News of Monday, Oct. 1, 1888, begged to differ.

“Even now there are men in town who seem to doubt whether it is a paying investment. To such we would say, try and buy the stock. One poor deluded mortal was heard to ask, only last Friday, while standing on the sidewalk, ‘say neighbor, when do they intend to take up the track; can’t I get a job!’ Well, no! Sit down and calculate, an average of 400 people riding every day, at five cents per head, and then tell us if you think it is necessary to tear up the tracks.”

Unlike this year’s mild autumn, it was reported on Oct. 4, 1888, that there were snowflakes in the air and a “terrible cold day for the opening of the Morris fair, and but few people attended.” Oneonta’s trolley passengers had to shiver during their rides until Oct. 12 when stoves were placed in the cars, “making it very pleasant and comfortable for passengers.”

While the cold weather was settling in, the unpaved streets and sidewalks in the village were an issue, reported on Oct. 13.

“The trustees are drawing gravel to fill up the bad places on Main street. They can keep drawing, from now to dooms day, and it will make no difference. Pave the street, that is what is needed, procrastination is the thief of time.”

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