JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
It may be that the history of human locomotion is the story of fast sitting. Except for some of the earliest incarnations of powered movement, it seems one of the most significant engineering aspects moving a person forward is how that person should be carried in the vehicle. And, well, it seems that in the vast majority of cases, the person is sitting. (There are of course exceptions, notably in say the standing of the engineer in the Tom Thumb when that locomotive set the land speed record;or the Wright Brothers' powered aircraft, where the pilot was laying down; or say in a chariot powered by a team of horses. Even in some of the earliest versions of steam-powered tractors, the mammoths were steered by a standing operator. It seems though that in very quick order the operator in most of these vehicles find themselves in a seated position.)
A very curious application of moving seated humans is seen in this woodcut of a chaired walkway--for all intents and purposes, the pedestrians looking to use the moving sidewalk would have been offered a chair instead. It seems as though as its base that this was a very simple form of an elevated subway or trolley, though without the train.
The moving seated sidewalk was the dreamchild of Alfred Speer (1823-1910), of Passaic, New Jersey, and it seems as though it might have been the first form of mass rapid transit in the city for which it was intended, which was NYC. It stood fairly high in the opinions of some prominent New Yorkers (like Horace Greeley and Peter Cooper) when it was presented in the early 1870's, and even passed the New York State Legislature in an act authorizing funding for the program in 1873 and 1874--but it was each time vetoed by Governor John Dix, and the people-moving dream ended there, right before the Centennial. (See here for the New York Times obituary for Speer., and see All Ways NY blog for a longer look at Speer's moving sidewalk, here.)
Here's another version of Speer's idea, though this look more like a moving sidewalk, complete with trolley cars, all of which were stationary objects located on the moving walkway. The idea of course was to free up the chaos and gridlock of the very busy areas of Broadway by placing a large chunk of the confusion on a moving second floor. It seems as though it might have been a good half-year idea or so, and the $3.7 million dollar price tag might've been a hefty one if you calculated the cost per minute of relieved traffic.
[Picture source: All Ways NY.]
Mr. Speer seems to have let his vision go and settled down to a life of wine making.