Friday, March 7, 2014

1930 Erie County Highway Map

1930 Pennsylvania Department of Highways map.
When tourists came to Presque Isle State Park or Waldameer in 1930, they had far fewer choices in planning their trip. This was long before interstates I-90 or I-79 were built, and there were a lot of dirt backroads and side streets. The Sproul Road Bill, which was approved in 1911, created the State Highway System in Pennsylvania. 

State Highway Routes included SR79 (which appears to be the present-day Route 6-N); SR99 (now Route 5?); State Route 18, SR98, SR 955, SR 505, SR 832 and SR 89 appear to have retained the same numbers.

There were three National Routes in Erie County in 1930, shown on this map as Route 20 (West Ridge Road, West 26th Street and Buffalo Road); Route 19 (Peach Street); and Route 6 (which I think was later changed to Route 97). These stretched much farther than the regular state highway routes.

Early roads were made with bricks or macadamized. Some were paved with other materials much earlier than I realized. Bids for roadwork commissioned by the PA State Highway Department were opened on January 22, 1918 for the following jobs: Route 272 in Millcreek Township (now called Route 20), 13,750 feet in length, reinforced concrete (Joseph McCormick bid $76,395); Route 87 (now called Route 5) in Harborcreek Twp., 15,050 feet in length, material not stated (Joseph McCormick bid $82,018) -Municipal Journal, February 2, 1918.

There were several alternate forms of transportation in Erie in 1940. The New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad made regular stops at Union Station; the New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate) had a terminal at 211 East 19th St. and the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad was located at 121 West 12th Street. 

The Union Bus Depot, at 12 North Park Row in Perry Square was the terminal for Greyhound, West Ridge Transportation Co. and Harmony Short Line. You could hop on an Erie Coach Company bus at multiple points in Erie and ride for a dime. Taxi service was available at a rate of 30 cents for the first minute and five cents for each additional one-third of a minute. A round trip ride on a ferry boat from the Public Steamboat Landing at the foot of State to Waterworks Park at the Peninsula would set you back a quarter in 1940. American Air Lines offered four flights daily departing from Port Erie, the predecessor to the Erie International Airport -Pennsylvania Guide to the Keystone State (WPA, 1940)

There were seven hotels, including the swanky Lawrence Hotel, along with all the little cabins and motels along Route 20 from the Ohio line to the New York border. There were also plenty of service stations, where the attendant would pump gas, pop the hood to check the oil, top off other fluids if needed and check the pressure in your tires. 

When did it become a "convenience" to pump your own gas? A friend brought this up recently and it made me realize how inconvenient it is to stop, get out, pump gas, run to the store, stand in line, pay, hop back in the car, turn the key and zoom off to my destination. It was kind of fun when I first started to drive, but not anymore. Ettwein's still pumps gas for their customers, but I can't think of any other stations that do.

Back to the subject at hand. I'm a map geek and I may post more of these in the future if I get enough requests.

Find more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at Old Time Erie


  1. More maps, please.

    Thanks for all the information and research included in this post. Who knew McCormick was paving our streets even back then?

    Just as interesting are the old names of the town and villages. North Girard and Fairplain; Eureka Corners and Little Elk; Five Points and Bogus Corners; E. vs. W. Greene!

  2. In relatively recent history there has been full service at the Kwik Fill station on East Lake Road and Penna. Ave. I think I also spotted a full-serve pump at a Kwik Fill here in Rochester NY too. Don't know if either station still offers it.

    I have given up on buying gas with cash. It is too aggravating to stand in line twice.
    Leslie Ann

    1. great historical data

  3. Really interesting map - thanks for posting it. Old maps are fascinating. Whatever happened to Bogus Corners?

    So, at one time U.S. 6 ended in Kane, and then was extended west and north to Erie. According to Wikipedia, U.S. 6 was extended westward in 1931, taking over other existing routes - beginning with Pa. 79 from Union City. . Old U.S. 6 from Union City to Erie is now Pa. 97, and Pa. 79 from Edinboro to Springfield is now U.S 6N. I wonder why 6N was created?

    I could look at this map all day ...