When Smyrna’s speed limit was 8 mph

A line drawing of an antique car, with a Cobb County Courier logo alongside it

The June 3, 1909 issue of a now-defunct newspaper called the Atlanta Georgian published the following story about a speed-limit ordinance Smyrna’s city council had recently passed (we’ve included a screenshot of the article):

Slow down in Smyrna or you’ll be pinched. 

City Solons fix auto limit at eight miles an hour—and you can stay a long time in Smyrna at that rate—Smyrna is a live town.

Motorists between Atlanta and the charming suburb of Marietta, on the north, may hook back the throttles of their racecar until they are fairly straightening out the kinks in the road and hitting only the high places—until they get to Smyrna. And this doesn’t mean until they get to the business section of that enterprising village, or to the mayor’s office, or to the calaboose, where they will eventually land if they don’t shut off the speed juice exactly as they reach the outward limits. They have got to soft-pedal down to eight miles per hour—or less—all the time they are in Smyrna. As the limits are quite extensive, this means they will spend considerable time in Smyrna at eight miles per hour.

Smyrna is up to date. Smyrna had a law against riding bicycles on the sidewalks by the time Atlanta did. In fact, Smyrna had the law before she had the sidewalks. She got those later so she could enforce the law. Smyrna refuses to be left behind on any point of civic legislation. Smyrna had the anti-expectoration-on-the-sidewalk law about two days after Atlanta got it, having already constructed sidewalks so she could pinch bicyclists for riding on them.

Smyrna was a bit slow on the anti-speed auto ordinance. But she has it now, all right, and the unwary motorist will have to gaze at the enterprising town sliding by in slow time—not more than eight miles per hour—or he will have to add 25 large and perfectly good dollars to its coffers.

Since even Atlanta Road was not fully paved until 1920 to 1922 during the construction of the Dixie Highway, 8 mph might have been a reasonable speed in 1909.  But the restriction was notable enough for the Georgian to take note, even in those days.

About Georgia Historic Newspapers

Georgia Historic Newspapers is a part of the GALILEO project and is housed at the University of Georgia. It’s an amazing resource for anyone with an interest in the history of Georgia and its regions.

According to the “About” page on its website:

The Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), a part of Georgia’s Virtual Library GALILEO and is based at the University of Georgia Libraries. Since 2007, the DLG has partnered with universities, archives, public libraries, historical societies, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions to digitize historical newspapers from around the state. The archive is free and open for public use and includes over two million Georgia newspaper pages between 1763 and 2021.

Newspaper titles are regularly digitized and added to the archive. If you are interested in including a particular title, you can visit our participation page. A majority of the newspapers on this site were digitized from the microfilm produced by the Georgia Newspaper Project (GNP). For more information about the microfilm available through the GNP, please visit their website.