Gridlock Sam: The Horn-Blowing Streets Of New York City

Jul 25, 2017

Sam Schwartz, known worldwide as Gridlock Sam, helps people navigate the streets of New York City
Credit Allan Wolper for WBGO

Sam Schwartz is known worldwide as Gridlock Sam, a nickname the media gave him for his role in drawing up ways to navigate the congested corners of New York City. He designed the traffic patterns around the Barclay Center in Brooklyn the streets around The World Trade Center, and engineered traffic circles in Aruba.

Schwartz started his life in traffic as a cab driver in Brooklyn, dodging the other yellow cabs before landing a job in city government, eventually becoming New York City’s traffic commissioner.

At first he thought he would become a physicist like his brother, but realized that he would never be happy or make much of a life for himself in laboratories. “I liked parties, I liked girls, I was a city kid,” he said in a February, 2015 interview on Conversations with Allan Wolper.

But he liked math, science and uban life, which led him to city government, and these days to a column in the Daily News in New York City, covering traffic.