2006_05_winstonchurch.jpgThis past weekend, the FYI column in the NY Times' City section was really good. Someone thought double parking was legal (ha!) and another person wondered why the city's fountains are winterized (pipes would freeze, silly), but best of all, one person asked about the time Winston Churchill "was almost killed by a car in Manhattan" in 291.

Traveling north in a taxi (Fifth Avenue was two-way in those days), Churchill became confused about the building numbers. The taxi driver, who was new to Manhattan, turned around. Churchill got out on the Central Park side, walked a few paces north and then tried to cross the avenue against the light.

Used to traffic that keeps to the left, Churchill looked to his right, saw no one coming and kept walking. A car driven by an unemployed mechanic named Mario Contasino, moving about 30 miles an hour, dragged Churchill several yards and flung him into the street, bruising his right chest, spraining his right shoulder and cutting his forehead and nose.

While Churchill was gracious to Contasino (he didn't press charges) and told his friends he was fine, he actually spiraled into "severe aftershock and depression." Who knew! But clearly, even though he was used to London traffic patterns, it's all about looking both way when you cross the street, especially two way streets.

Does anyone know when Fifth Avenue turned one way below 135th? (The Wikipedia entry doesn't mention it.) The Churchill Centre has no mention of the accident. And here are tips from the Department of Transportation for crossing the street.