The Open Planning Project founder Mark Gorton in NY talks with "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz about about history of DOT in NYC, car-free Cental Park, and general transportation policy. It gives a great history of the evolution of transportation thinking and policy in NY over the last 40 years.
The interview was transcribed so you can read it here.
"A (Sam Schwartz): The traffic department came out of the police department around 1950. There was no profession in traffic until the 1960s and 1970s. It was mostly cops and some engineers. I joined in 1971. Around 1975 the mayor's wife got caught in a traffic jam around the Upper East Side and complained, so we were told to open Central Park to cars. At the time it was closed from 10am to 4pm. I was given the assignment to justify the change, and I came back not exactly justifying it. One of the senior engineers at the time tried to explain my position. He said, "You have to understand Sam. He lives in the city and rides the subway." They were all suburbanites driving to work."