I hate traffic.
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.
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
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.
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"
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.
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
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.
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.
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
throughout his career, Sam Schwartz has received
both domestic and international recognition for
his outstanding work and community service. These
- 1996 The Sam Schwartz Company was presented
the Gowanus Expressway Project Award by the
New York State Department of Transportation
for demonstrating Engineering excellence.
was chosen as 1990 Bridge Engineer of the Year
by the Institute of Bridge Integrity and Safety
for leading national efforts to restore United
Schwartz was named 1988 Transportation Engineer
of the Year by the Institute of Transportation
Engineers for integrating successful traffic
and transit programs.
Schwartz was presented the 1985 Public Service
Award, considered the Nobel Prize for municipal
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
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New York, NY 10012