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STATEMENT OF MR. EDMUND BRADY, ATTORNEY AT LAW,
REPRESENTING THE WASHINGTON TERMINAL CO.
Mr. Brady. I want to make a statement, Mr. Chairman, as briefly as possible, on behalf of the Washington Terminal Co., and also to file with the committee certain portions of the court records that have to do with the situation over there, as I promised Mr. Lanham, who seemed to be especially interested in them.
As you probably know, Mr. Chairman, for a number of years prior to 1901 there was a great deal of agitation in this District for two things: One was the abolition of grade crossings, which is unimportant here, and the other was the establishment of new stations for the two principal railroads here, that is the subsidiaries of the Pennsylvania, which were then the Baltimore & Potomac; the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington; and the Baltimore & Ohio. In 1901 Congress passed two separate acts providing for separate stations for those two railroad companies. While the companies were buying the land and carrying out the provisions of those acts the agitation arose for a union station here, and Congress, having decided that Washington, because of its being the Capital of this country, deserved a station building in keeping with the governmental structures, not such a building as the traffic of this town might justify from a financial viewpoint, but, to use the language of Congress itself, they wanted a union station monumental in character, and it was provided by the act of February 28, 1903, that the station building should cost not less than $4,000,000.
The Washington Terminal Co., whose incorporation was provided for in the act, proceeded with the erection of this station, beginning shortly after the passage of the act of 1903. As has already been testified here, the southerly limit of the Washington terminal property was the north line of Massachusetts Avenue, and, of course, the Terminal Co. had the right to come with its station building flush with the line of Massachusetts Avenue.
There were, however, three considerations that led to the placing of that station where it now stands; that is, some distance back from the north line of Massachusetts Avenue. First was that, because of the monumental character of that building, it would have been an architectural blunder to place it flush on a public street; secondly, at that time there were no street car lines near the Union Station, and naturally there had to be provision made for those street car lines, so that any person from any quarter of the District of Columbia might either go there directly or by means of a transfer. And the third reason was that experience in the management of terminals and stations had demonstrated that it is absolutely necessary for the handling of traffic that the terminal people, whatever company or railroad it might be, have control over the station approaches. There are constant conditions of emergency that arise that make necessary the regulation of traffic, such as inaugurations here, or any other extraordinary occasion. So those were the three reasons for placing that station back from the north line of Massachusetts Avenue.
For the sake of accuracy, I might say that there is some change in the terminal limit at this time, and I might explain that. In 1908, I think it was, the District of Columbia had an unexpended appropriation, and they asked the authority of Congress to use that in the
purchase of ornamental flagstaffs which now stand down there in the plaza. The proper place to put them, according to the commissioners, was on land owned by the Washington Terminal Co., and Congress did authorize the erection of those flagstaffs, provided the Washington Terminal Co. would convey to the United States Government the ground on which those flagstaffs were to be located, and in accordance with that act the Washington Terminal Co. did, without compensation, deed that property to the United States Government, and it is now under the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. How much did it deed ?
Mr. Brady. That shaded area there shows the present terminal limits [indicating on map]. In other words the shaded area is the land conveyed.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. This island in still vested
Mr. BRADY. That is Government property. It is just from this line back that the ownership of the Washington Terminal Co. exists. The car tracks are all on the land of the Washington Terminal Co., except where they turn off here sindicating]. There they go over its property. I can not mark it out accurately, but that is the fact.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. Up until that time this property, this shaded area, was vested in the Washington Terminal Co. ?
Mr. Brady. In the Washington Terminal Co., clear to the north line of Massachusetts Avenue.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. What was the contribution of the Government to this company--that is, the Washington Terminal Co.-when this station was built?
Mr. BRADY. My recollection is that that contribution was made to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. under the act of 1901. That is the only company I am familiar with. The railroad had the right, as I recall, to maintain its tracks at grade from 1910. They also dedicated to the District of Columbia, or the United States, the abandoned right of way which is now known as West Virginia Avenue, and there were other considerations. I was just beginning to practice law at the time here, and I am not very familiar with that.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. A part of this land was vested in the Government? Mr. BRADY. No, sir; only such parts of the streets as went in there. The land indicated by the white portion on the map had to be purchased by the Terminal Co.
I might say that the location of that station and the car tracks and everything in connection with the station, under the act of Congress, had to be done under plans to be approved, and which were approved, by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, and particularly the engineer commissioner.
All of that space that now is in front of the station, and also that in the west portico, is, of course, paved by the terminal company, kept clean, and in every way upkept at the sole expense of the terminal company. The District of Columbia has never exercised any authority over it, and we are solely responsible for its maintenance.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. That includes the street in front of the station? Mr. BRADY. Yes, sir.
No difficulty ever arose in regard to the management of that terminal until about 1916, when a concern here operating sight-see
ing busses, with a rather long name which I always forget, commonly known, I think, as the Red Line, but the incorporated name of which is the International Auto Sight-Seeing Transit Co., asserted the right on their part to come upon the station property immediately in front of the station and the front entrance, and stand their sight-seeing vehicles there and solicit patronage for them from incoming passengers, or anybody who happened to be upon the station property. Under those conditions, the Washington Terminal Co. sought to enjoin them from standing their vehicles, or loitering or soliciting patronage, upon their property. Their contention or their answer in response was that the terminal company had, by its conduct, made a public street of that space in front of the station; in other words, there had been a dedication to the public, and that the terminal company had no right to keep them off. They were represented, as I said the other day, by Mr. Frank J. Hogan. The case was tried before Judge Stafford, and, as I promised, I have here a compared copy of the decree, and also the stenographer's report of Judge Stafford's opinion given at the close of the hearing. I will file the whole opinion, of course, but there are just a few lines that I would like to call the attention of the committee to at this time. Judge Stafford says:
In the first place, I think the most important consideration of all connected with the case, as I have gathered it from the able argument of counsel on both sides, is the originally planned scheme, as shown by the act of Congress, and by what was done there in the beginning. It was contemplated thereby that there should be this large space, this immense building, with its ramifying tracks, and the great front of the station, with one large portico, and, of course, a wide, open space in front of it. That must have been contemplated in the original scheme, and the tracks of the street railways, for the accommodation of the public who must rely in the main upon such means of convenience, were, of course, expected to pass over this space.
And then it goes on to say that the testimony utterly failed to disclose any intent on the part of the Washington Terminal Co. to dedicate this space to the public, and that, therefore, that being private property and under their control, they were entitled to an injunction against this sight-seeing concern, preventing it from parking its cars on that space or soliciting patronage.
A temporary injunction was thereupon issued against these people, and later a final injunction, which I will also file with the committee, just reading a few lines therefrom.
I might say also, Mr. Zihlman, that in that case, while the District was not a formal party, because of the interest it had in it, Mr. Syme and Assistant Corporation Counsel Stephens, as I recall, both appeared as friends of the court, and argued the case before Judge Stafford, in addition to the counsel for the real parties, and the decree so recites. The decree, in part, is as follows:
It appearing to the court that the title to the property and space in these proceedings described, and lying between the south line of the property of the Washington Terminal Co. and the Union Station building, as shown on plat is exhibit to original bill herein, is vested in said terminal company and under its control, supervision, and direction, and that no other control or direction has ever been granted or acquiesced in by the said Washington Terminal Co., and that the said property and space is not a public highway," it is ordered that these parties be enjoined.
That was the only litigation in this District we have had in the civil courts over this space in front of the station.
I might say before I go any further that the station was always entirely open. I am speaking of the front of the station. Vehicles could pass to and from it, and people coming out of the front door of the station took the street cars in whatever direction they chose to go. The parking space for the public—that is, the private vehicles that went to the station—was the open space at the extreme west of the station, the open space at the extreme east of the station, and then the entire south front of the station east of the front door—that is, the space corresponding to that west of the front door which then. as now, was occupied by the cabs of the Terminal Taxicab Co.
About the time of our entry into the war, or toward its close_I do not know just when the condition began to arise_the public hackers adopted a scheme of circling the space in front of the station, and in a continuous stream they circled around and around there, until it was absolutely impossible for an individual to get in that space in front of the station that had been set aside for the parking of private vehicles, because he could not get through this stream of vehicles. Mr. Hart testified the other day that he had to stop his machine and display his police badge on several occasions when he went over there, in order to get them to stop and let him through so he could park at that point.
With that condition confronting the Railroad Administration, the Washington Terminal Co., of course, has nothing to do with the station during the period of Federal control—there was only one course they had in law and that was an injunction suit against these parties, similar to the one filed against the sight-seeing company, The administration, because of the necessarily temporary nature of its tenure, did not care to embark in any litigation that could possibly be avoided. Mr. Wilkes, who was superintendent of the Washington Terminal properties during the period of Federal control, then took up the question, and as result he obtained from the building department of the District of Columbia a permit to erect those posts and chains which are there now, and they were so erected that they shut off completely all the vehicular traffic through that space immediately in front of the station, although it is still open on one of the car tracks.
When these hearings began, about March 1, the properties passed from Federal control, and Mr. Wilkes, who had an intimate knowledge of everything that had gone on there for over a year and a half past, left the Railroad Administration to become the general manager of the Jacksonville Terminal Co. at Jacksonville, Fla. As I told Mr. Zihlman at the beginning of the hearings, I would make an endeavor to have Mr. Wilkes return here so that he might give the committee the benefit of his views. He replied, stating that he had just taken up this new job; that the terminal was being rebuilt: that everything was more or less disorganized, and it would be an impossibility for him to return, but he did write this letter which I would like to file with the committee. After explaining the reasons for his inability to come here, he says:
I think it would be a calamity and almost a crime to permit the public hackers of Washington to have free access to the taxicab facilities in any portion of the station for the purpose of solicitation or loading up passengers. It it is my belief that we owe a duty to the traveling public to furnish them a reliable and dependable taxicab service to take them to their homes and hotels after they arrive at our station.
The only way, in my opinion, to obtain this protection for the traveling public is to make an arrangement with some taxicab concern whose reliability and responsibility is such that it will absolutely protect the patron against any damage incident to injury or inistreatment of any other kind.
I know personally that women have been insulted after entering public cabs at Washington during the time I was superintendent at that place, and I know further that these people claim that when they entered these cabs the drivers assured them that they were taxicabs of the Terminal Taxicab Co. Therefore, when these people were overcharged, as almost invariably occurred, or were insulted or mistreated, they would take the matter up with me direct, only to find that they had not used a terminal taxicab, but had used a public hack. I received complaints too numerous to mention, mostly verbal over the telephone, from people in Washington as to being overcharged by the Terminal Taxicab Co., and in every case, without exception, on proper investigation it developed that it was a public cab and not a Terminal Taxicab vehicle.
When I went to Washington in February, 1919, there were times when it was practically impossible for a passenger to cross from the front of the station to the street car tracks for the purpose of boarding a street car. This was due to an incessant stream of public hackers, one after the other constantly moving in a very slow procession in front of the main entrance of the station. I recall a number of cases where old men, women, and several young girls were knocked down by these public hackers, and seeing the urgency and necessity of something to break up this practice in order to protect those who used the street cars and who, in my opinion, represent over 90 per cent of all the traffic which leaves the station by public vehicles, I found it necessary to erect chains and barriers to prevent public hackers from passing in front of the main portals of the station. I do not believe I would be exaggerating when I state that the relief was so immediate and noticeable to the traveling public that I received hundreds and possibly a thousand complimentary letters and telephone messages particularly, congratulating me for my thoughtfulness in removing such a hazardous condition as existed in front of the station at the time this action was taken.
And then he expresses his regret at his inability to appear before the committee.
The second letter is from Mr. Warrington, who had charge of the entire Washington terminals, I mean the new railroad terminals there, from the yards at Alexandria clear out to Maryland, and the Union Station was merely an incident or one of the things under his control. In other words, Mr. Wilkes was under Mr. Warrington, who also writes regretting those conditions, and I will leave both letters with the committee.
Mr. ZIHLMAN. Is there anything you want to bring out in those letters? We do not want to put all of that personal statement about Mr. Wilkes being in charge of the terminal in Jacksonville, and things of that kind, in the record. You have read the part pertaining to conditions at the Union Station, have you not?
Mr. Brady. Practically all of it. Any part of his statement as to his inability to get here, or things of that sort, might be omitted from the record.
A good deal has been said here about the platforms in that west portico. I was familiar, from going there both on business and taking my family and friends to trains there, with the conditions that prevailed before those platforms were laid, and what I have to say on that subject is entirely apart from any question of the right of occupancy there by the Terminal Taxicab Co. Before those platforms were put in there, the only place that anyone who went in there had either to load or unload was on the granolithic walk, and as a consequence during busy times there was always a confusion and a mass of vehicles there.