Friday, May 1, 2015

The "Accommodation" was Public Transit in Early Provincetown

The accommodation bounces "down along" Commercial Street, toward the East End.
This postcard was published by The Advocate, printers of Provincetown's weekly newspaper under that name, as well as a great number of postcards offered in their storefront at 265 Commercial Street, across  the road from Town Hall, known today as Waydowntown restaurant. The year is around 1910, when there weren't many vehicles on the road, and two-way traffic was still allowed on Commercial Street. This is the corner of Commercial and Standish streets, and in the background is the dark, gaping, angled doorway of the building now known as the Post Office Cafe and Cabaret.
The early motorized bus in the photo was one of many over the years which served Provincetown residents by making trips to each end of Commercial Street, traveling both "up along" and "down along" many times daily. A trip "up along" would take riders into the Portuguese neighborhoods of the West End, and folks bound for the East End would make their way "down along," to the traditionally Yankee neck of the woods. Bradford Street was also served by this assortment of various vehicles throughout the years, collectively known as the "accommodation."
With newer models replacing older ones as time went on, and with several companies serving the town over a period of years, these conveyances all seemed to have a few things in common. They were open on the sides, with running boards that passengers would climb to rows of seats, about a half-dozen upholstered benches running the width of the vehicle. There was a canopy overhead, and a sort of curtain all around, which was most often rolled up, but could be lowered in bad weather.
The "accommodation" was a motorized buggy, if you will, sans horse, and for the 5¢ one-way fare you could ride the entire length of Commercial Street, or Bradford, with the driver happily stopping here and there along the way for passengers to run their errands. The other patrons waited patiently through these brief delays, because they would often make their own requests for stops along the way.
According to author John Hardy Wright, in his book Provincetown: volume II, the vehicle pictured above was dubbed The Pilgrim, among the earlier vehicles of this sort, running on wheels made of hard rubber. Wright suggests that Bill Nickerson may have been the first driver of one of these vehicles, but he also mentions that Josiah L. Young claimed to have been the original "town cabbie." The book also tells of a driver called Mr. Kendrick, who entertained his riders with numerous Cape Cod stories, which no doubt helped to pass the time pleasantly while waiting for a fellow passenger to return to the bus with a pound of bacon from the butcher shop, or a paper from the newsstand.


  1. The owners of "The Accommodation" were the Paige family. They lived at 61 Pleasant Street, which my partner and I now own. When we were renovating we found wooden boxes from the Paige Brothers used as sheathing. The home was in the Paige family right up to 2000.

  2. Yes, of all those who ran a version of "The Accommodation" over the years, the Paige Brothers definitely remain the most memorable. They started their transportation business in 1912, and in 1915, when they bought three motorbuses, they put competing horse-drawn services out of business. By the late 1930s two of their buses were still operating, despite the growing number of vehicles, and their proud owners, cruising along Commercial Street by then.
    I'll bet you found a lot of interesting things during your renovation of the Paige house. Thanks for sharing this bit of PTown history with us, and thank you for reading my blog!