This piece from The New York Times takes a look back at what the city was doing to make its streets more accessible to the automobile.
"The New York Times ran an extensive article on June 27, 1909, on how Fifth Avenue - then effectively only one lane of traffic in each direction - lost seven and a half feet of sidewalk on each side and gained an extra lane of roadway in each direction from 25th to 47th Streets. Stoops, gardens, courtyards - all had to be refashioned for the asphalt. Big losses were suffered by a number of churches, and by the Waldorf Hotel, which had a 15-foot-wide sunken garden. Until then, Fifth Avenue had glorious 30-foot-wide sidewalks."