About Sam

I hate traffic.

This may sound strange from someone who has made his living out of it, but I detest delays. I prefer the local bodega over the low-priced supermarket any day, just to avoid the long lines. Saturday night at the movies is anathema to me because of the ticket queue. So, from the day I got my driver's license I avoided driving with the hordes. When you follow my shortcuts, you will, too.

Some thirty-seven years ago I began my professional career as a New York City taxi driver. This provided basic training for maneuvering through the city's streets. Though trained in science, I switched majors to transportation engineering in graduate school. I thought I would save the subways, but the Transit Authority wouldn't offer me a job. I ended up as a junior engineer at the old Traffic Department.

Initially I worked developing neighborhood one-way plans but soon I was moved to "Special Projects". John Lindsay was mayor and proposed many innovative and bold schemes to reduce traffic in Midtown. I spent a lot of time on these plans, working with an old-time traffic engineer named Roy Cottam. One day, Roy spoke of his fears if we closed the streets in the Theater District, the grid system would "lock-up" and all traffic would grind to a halt. Soon we simply juxtaposed the word, and the term gridlock was born.

In 1980, when I was chief engineer in charge of traffic operations during the transit strike, the press heard of our concerns about gridlock. The word caught on, and within days I received a phone call from William Safire, the certifier of new words for The New York Times. "Gridlock, such a word cannot miss," he wrote on his "On Language" column. I tried to share the credit for the word with Roy, but he didn't want to be blamed for it. So I became the father of the trendiest word of the '90s, earning the moniker "Gridlock" Sam.

Sam Schwartz is one of the leading transportation engineers in the United States today. His expertise extends into the areas of regional planning and development, urban design and civil engineering. Mr. Schwartz is regarded as New York City's authority on issues of urban infrastructure, traffic safety and transportation systems.

Mr Schwartz graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a M.S. in Civil Engineering, a B.S from Brooklyn College and is currently a doctoral candidate at Polytechnic University. A licensed professional engineer in New York and New Jersey with over a quarter century of experience, Sam Schwartz has served in many leadership positions and has successfully executed a wide range of urban infrastructure projects.

Professional Experience

From 1982-86, Sam Schwartz served an extremely successful term as New York City's Traffic Commissioner before going on to serve the next four years as the New York City Department of Transportation's Chief Engineer/First Deputy Commissioner.

After nearly twenty years with the New York City Department of Transportation, Mr. Schwartz moved from public service in 1990 to join Hayden-Wegman Consulting Engineers, Inc. as Senior Vice President in charge of transportation engineering, infrastructure, quality control and planning.

In the summer of 1995, The Sam Schwartz Engineering opened its doors with a staff of two. Since that time, the company has grown to include over sixty diverse professionals. Today, under Sam's direction, The Sam Schwartz Engineering produces some of the finest work in civil engineering, planning, and urban design.

Awards and Recognitions

Frequently throughout his career, Sam Schwartz has received both domestic and international recognition for his outstanding work and community service. These honors include:

  • 1996 The Sam Schwartz Company was presented the Gowanus Expressway Project Award by the New York State Department of Transportation for demonstrating Engineering excellence.
  • He was chosen as 1990 Bridge Engineer of the Year by the Institute of Bridge Integrity and Safety for leading national efforts to restore United States Bridges.
  • Sam Schwartz was named 1988 Transportation Engineer of the Year by the Institute of Transportation Engineers for integrating successful traffic and transit programs.
  • Mr. Schwartz was presented the 1985 Public Service Award, considered the Nobel Prize for municipal employees.
  • In 1989 Sam Schwartz flew to Sweden for the Volvo Traffic Safety Award
    presented to his traffic safety division. This is the most prestigious international traffic safety award.

Gridlock Sam
  611 Broadway, Suite 415
  New York, NY 10012
  212.598.9148 fax





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