People walking in the middle of the street, carts, horses, etc. The street hadn’t yet been given completely over to the car. We’ve swung so far away from this now to make it illegal to jaywalk for the efficiency of cars getting around without them needing to worry about other forms of traffic.
It’s definitly safer now, but at the cost of giving over significant portions of our cities to cars. We put the onus on the pedestrian, cyclist, scooter, et al, to fight for getting access back to the street, but it hasn’t always been this way.
Basically, automobiles were killing people in the streets, so manufacturers lobbied to get people off the streets and turn them into car-only thoroughfares, and invented a new term for their campaign -- jaywalking, where "jay" back then used to mean "hick" or someone from the country.
Yes, I'm not really advocating for a resurgence of the horse in cities, just that we get roads that can be used for more things than just cars.