STREET SCENES | Monroe County Historic Photo Album

It’s hard to imagine, walking down busy Monroe County streets today, a time when they looked as broad and quiet as they do in these photos.

Streets were serious business in any town. One of the oldest responsibilities for a municipality is the maintenance of public thoroughfares. Most borough streets were not paved in the years before 1900, but attempts were made to keep them passable, and new equipment made their upkeep easier.

Technological innovations such as electricity and new knowledge of sanitation contributed to new demands placed on municipal leaders. Meanwhile, residents were expected to help, too. In Stroudsburg, for instance, a law was passed in 1889 fining residents for throwing garbage in the streets instead of burning it in their yards.

Stroudsburg led Monroe County municipalities in street development because of its faster growth, but the more rural towns made the same improvements in time.

In 1889 Stroudsburg bought the county’s first road machine, which was used to clean out gutters, level uneven areas and give the road the proper slope from the center to the gutters. Both Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg hired the services of a street sprinkler to wet down dust on the roads. Lot owners had to curb and pave sidewalks, the boroughs laid flagstone crossings to make it easier for pedestrians to cross muddy roads.

The first lamps, using burning oil, were put out in 1868 by Stroudsburg businessmen. By 1874, the borough was paying to have the lamps lit each night, although citizens were responsible for repairing the lamps, except for wicks and globes. Then electricity came along. Arc lights were put on Main Street in Stroudsburg in 1889 to stay lit until 2 a.m. every night except on bright moon-lit nights.