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Penn Square Traffic Circle - A Troubled Past

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The Penn Square traffic circle has a long and troubled history.

It was originally installed in May 1934 by Police Commissioner John S. Giles during the administration of Mayor Heber Ermentrout. Its purpose was to slow down converging traffic. Sometimes the traffic was slowed more than expected when one car would bump into the rear of another.

The original circle was nothing more than a painted line. Soon posts were installed but the city found it was spending all its time replacing the posts knocked down by motorists.

In February 1940, Police Chief George W. Schuck ordered the circle removed but it was soon restored. Six years later Mayor J. Henry Stump ordered more substantial barriers be installed.

In 1949, some of the posts were removed to permit 5th street traffic to turn east-bound through the center of the circle. Soon other gaps appeared until, in 1952, it was restored.

A year later Mayor James B. Bamford ordered it removed again but restored it shortly afterwards. In 1954 there was more talk of removing it but Mayor Bamford rejected the proposal and, in 1959, ordered flowers planted.

In 1962 there was more talk of removing it, but it was never accomplished.

In December 1963, Mayor John C. Kubacki took a crowbar to the circle the night before he was to leave office. He wanted to see if the concrete could be removed easily. If so, he said, he intended to have workmen remove it during his final day in office. The task proved too formidable.

In 1973 the landmark was removed as part of a $1.1 million Penn Square beautification project.

Removal of Traffic Circle (1973)

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