Imagine New York with roundabouts instead of traffic lights at intersections.
Eno’s enthusiasm for the block system had waned by 1920. As traffic officers were replaced with rotating “go-stop” semaphores and carriages with motor vehicles, he felt that stopping one flow of traffic created unnecessary delays. The stop is the hallmark of the grid as far as traffic thinkers are concerned, and much of the traffic engineering of the 20th century sought to remedy that delay.
For his solution, Eno looked to successful rotary systems in place for more than a decade, including New York’s Columbus Circle (1905) and Paris’s Place de l’Etoile. His plan, produced for a Municipal Arts Society competition, proposed a rotary at most intersections in the city. By cutting back slightly at the corners of the sidewalks, he claimed to have found a traffic circle with a large enough radius to make for easy turning. This system involved non-stop, flowing traffic. This proposal shows that even by 1920 the block system had not yet been completely accepted, and the greatest traffic thinker of the time derided the system. But further refinements over the decades would continue to ensure the serviceability of the block system. JR