Wick Avenue held rep of wrong sort

One-hundred thirty years ago in 1893, story and headlines taken directly from the pages of The Youngstown Vindicator:

“Evil practice. Wick Avenue a resort for young men who insult passing ladies. Not sufficient protection afforded to prevent it, should be stopped at once.

“Wick Avenue residents have long borne with fortitude the using of that beautiful thoroughfare as a trysting place by all the mashing inclined young couples of almost the entire city, but the practice has now become so flagrant a violation of their rights that complaints are becoming numerous.

“A Vindicator reporter walked up Wick Avenue last night and found the sidewalks crowded from Wood Street away out beyond McGuffey Street. Young girls of 12 years, and from that age up to 40, were promenading the sidewalks, while boys and men of corresponding ages were there to meet them.

“The street is an ideal lovers’ lane, being deeply shaded by trees, which make the sidewalks so devoid of light that recognition is almost impossible except at occasional places. At such points where the light of an electric lamp shines through the trees, gangs of young men congregate to see who ‘Mary’ has for a beau, and to cast remarks in some cases not in strict accord with decency.

“It is impossible to believe to what extent the street is used as a lovers’ retreat and a trip up that thoroughfare on a warm summer’s night will be a revelation to the ordinary citizen, excepting of course those who live on the street and who have watched the practice grow with apprehension.

“The policeman who patrols the beat on the hill is expected to guard property north of Wood Street and extending from Watt Street to Belmont Avenue to the city limits. To do his duty, he is expected to cover this entire territory, but Wick Avenue demands all of his attention, and then it is impossible to keep the crowds moving.

“The girls who make a practice of promenading the avenue unattended do not require the formality of an introduction to make their acquaintance, and young men who are inclined to be ‘mashers’ are as a consequence always on hand in goodly numbers to meet them. The practice is becoming more and more flagrant, and it is said that steps will be taken to stop it.

“A well-known resident of the street said last night: ‘It is becoming so that we dare not go onto the street after dark with our wives or daughters for fear of being insulted by the remarks made by the young men who crowd the sidewalks. To be sure, Wick Avenue is a public street, but that is no reason why is should be used as it is and something must be done to stop the practice which is fast giving the thoroughfare a bad name.'”

• Compiled from the Youngstown Vindicator by Traci Manning, Mahoning Valley Historical Society

curator of education.


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