I’ve walked up and down the Westport Y stairs — the ones by the pool, leading to the back parking lot — thousands of times.
But until the other day, I never stopped to read the plaque on the wall. (Full disclosure: The reason was that the stairs were gridlocked by a convoy of battle-ready baby strollers.)
The plaque honors William Phelps Eno. He’s the Westport businessman known as the “Father of Traffic Safety.” His innovations — creations, really — included the stop sign, pedestrian crosswalk, traffic circle, 1-way street, taxi stand and pedestrian safety island. He designed traffic plans for New York, Paris and London.
For many years, his worldwide traffic institute was headquartered on Saugatuck Avenue, near the Norwalk line.
(Fun fact: He never learned to drive.)
It’s nice that the Westport Y has a plaque honoring him.
But look closely. It honors the “William Phelps Eno Memorial Pedestrian Mall.”
Inquiring minds want to know:
- Was this pedestrian mall once located where the plaque now stands? (The Y’s Weeks Pavilion was built in 1978.)
- Was the mall somewhere else, and the plaque somehow landed here?
- Will the plaque move to the new Y, when it relocates to Mahackeno?
- And, most importantly: When was there a “pedestrian mall” in Westport, and why did we lose it?