Origin of "jaywalking"

Dear Dogstar,

It took me all of about 5 minutes to find out that the Model T started production in 1908, and had ceased production by 1927.

Who are these people that were still parking their horse and buggy in downtown Boston? By that time there had to be quite a supply of used cars for those that couldn’t afford them new.

A check of http://www.greenapple.com/~words1/052598.html#jaywalk shows that the orgin of “jaywalk” is based on the notion that tourists are called “jays.”

Dear Dogster, Dave and friends,
As long as we’re swapping internet posts in support of the answer to this question, well, here’s mine: I found the following at the “The Word Doctor”.

 Back in the 1800's, country bumpkins visiting the city were called "jays"
      probably because bluejays are loud, brightly-colored and not-very-bright
      birds. Now, before the bluejay lobby gets on my tail about that
      characterization, allow me to point out that "jay" has been used as a
      synonym for "simpleton" since the 1500's, so it's a bit late to protest. In
      any case, these out-of-town "jays" were famous for being clueless. They
      wandered all over the city, gawked at the big buildings, bought the 19th
      century equivalent of "Cats" t-shirts, and blundered right into traffic
      whenever they felt like crossing the street. By the early 1900's, paying no
      attention to traffic signals or crosswalks was known as "jaywalking."
 I distictly remember hearing the "jay" = country bumpkin explaination from at least one other source. Seems good to me.

A few comments on jaywalking in Boston.

  1. Horses and buggies trod the streets of Boston until the early 1950’s, although by that time they were extremely rare.

  2. Boston was notorious when I was living there (1945-68) for jaywalking. One reason may have been that Massachusetts had no law against jaywalking until about 1970.

  3. In the 1960s, the jaywalking capital of America–and perhaps the world–was Harvard Square, where the total mass of pedestrians exceeded that of the automobiles. That mass of jaywalkers could have included, at various times, actors Tommie Lee Jones and John Lithgow, financial writer Andrew Tobias, and our incumbent VEEP.

#1 - Howie, thanks for the backing on horse and buggies. I have a postcard from 1924 of Boston which shows numerous horse and buggies.

#2 - jay - stupid person; walker - walker. Jaywalker. A tourist who does stupid things is stupid, no? Isn’t that sorta exactly what I said? Anyway, it’s always good to have the Teeming Millions offer their research and thoughts - we at the SDSAB don’t claim to be perfect, we just work for someone who is. At least, that’s what he keeps telling us.

yer dog