WBEZ | subways http://www.wbez.org/tags/subways Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The CTA we didn't get, Part 4 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/cta-we-didnt-get-part-4-102261 <p><p>Today, we take a final look at some of the proposals in CTA&#39;s 1958 publication &quot;New Horizons.&quot; Daniel Burnham told Chicagoans to &quot;make no little plans.&quot; As we&#39;ve found out, implementing such plans is the tricky part.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01--Congress Four Tracks.jpg" title="Four Tracks on Congress Median ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">From Halsted west to Kedzie, the median of the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway was to have four tracks, the outer pair for the Chicago, Aurora &amp; Elgin interurban railroad. CA&amp;E folded in 1957, so &quot;New Horizons&quot; proposed adding the outer tracks to accommodate CTA express trains. Today the median strip still has only two tracks, and lots of empty space.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01--Douglas%20Park%20Cut.jpg" title="Douglas Park Line Improvement at Cicero ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">CTA planned to replace ground-running on the west end of the Douglas Park (Pink) Line with an open cut. The tracks in the cut would be extended west to a new terminal at Harlem Avenue. This is another improvement that was never implemented.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01--Englewood%20Extension.jpg" title="Englewood Line Extension ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1958 Englewood service stopped at Loomis Boulevard. CTA proposed continuing the line west to Midway Airport, using both elevated structure and open cut. The &quot;L&quot; was eventually extended two blocks to its present terminal at Ashland Avenue. The Orange Line now provides access to Midway.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01--Lake%20Street%20Elevation.jpg" title="Lake Street Track Elevation ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Lake Street &quot;L&quot; trains ran at grade-level west of Laramie. The CTA&#39;s plan was to move its service onto the parallel Chicago &amp; North Western Railroad embankment. This is one of the few &quot;New Horizons&quot; proposals that actually became reality.</div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 14 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/cta-we-didnt-get-part-4-102261 The CTA we didn't get, Part 3 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/cta-we-didnt-get-part-3-102175 <p><p>In 1958 CTA published an illustrated catalogue of future service improvements titled &quot;New Horizons.&quot; Most of these proposals were never adopted. Here&#39;s a look at some of the plans for the Northwest Branch of the Blue Line.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-10-01--Edens%20Park-n-Ride_0.jpg" title="Edens Junction Park 'n' Ride ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">One of CTA&#39;s more audacious ideas was to construct a multi-story parking garage &mdash; on air rights over the Kennedy-Edens expressway junction! The view here is south from Wilson Avenue. Considering the current traffic congestion in the area, this is one plan that was best left on the drawing board.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-10-02--NW%20Expy-Central.jpg" title="Foster-Central Park 'n' Ride ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This parking garage was to be located on Northwest Highway, close by the Foster-Central &quot;L&quot; station. CTA eventually decided to put its station a few blocks south instead, at Jefferson Park. No garage has been built there.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-10-03--NW%20Expy-Diversey_0.jpg" title="Crosstown Expressway Connector at Diversey ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1958 the Crosstown Expressway was planned for a location just east of California Avenue. When the Crosstown was finished, CTA trains on the Northwest (Kennedy) Expressway were going to use its median to connect with the existing &quot;L&quot; along Milwaukee Avenue. The route of the Crosstown was later changed, so CTA substituted a subway under Kimball Avenue as the connector.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-10-04--Logan%20Square%20Improvement.jpg" title="Logan Square Terminal Improvement ('New Horizons')" /></p><p>Under the Crosstown Connector proposal, there would be no &quot;L&quot; terminal at Logan Square, so installing escalators and renovating the bus bays there was a questionable use of funds. These improvements were never made. In 1970 the &quot;L&quot; terminal was replaced by the current Logan Square subway station.&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/cta-we-didnt-get-part-3-102175 The CTA we didn't get, Part 2 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/cta-we-didnt-get-part-two-102130 <p><p>In 1958 CTA was just over ten years old. The new agency was modernizing Chicago&#39;s transit system, and was confidently planning for the future. Here&#39;s another look at some of CTA&#39;s visionary proposals from a half-century ago, as outlined in the booklet &quot;New Horizons.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-07-01--Ravenswood-Kedzie.jpg" title="Ravenswood Line Improvement at Kedzie ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The last mile of the Ravenswood (Brown) Line operated at grade-level through one of the city&#39;s densest neighborhoods. CTA proposed lowering the tracks into an open cut. The plan was never implemented, and trains still run on the ground, like a child&#39;s toy circling a Christmas tree.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-07-02--Wells%20St%20Subway.jpg" title="Wells Street Subway ('New Horizons')" /></div></div><p>In the 1950s the Loop &quot;L&quot; was called an &quot;iron girdle&quot; retarding the expansion of the central business district. CTA wanted to tear down the whole thing. The Wells Street subway would carry trains from the North Side, and was under serious consideration into the 1970s. Today the Loop &quot;L&quot; is as sacrosanct to Chicago as the cable cars are to San Francisco.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-07-03--Lake-Congress%20Kenton%20Connector.jpg" title="Lake-Congress Connector ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Since CTA hoped to tear down the Loop, Lake Street trains would need a different route into downtown. One solution was to run the Lake trains only as far east as Kenton Avenue, then have them turn south on the Belt Line Railroad tracks to a junction with the new &quot;L&quot; line in the median of the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway. The Lake trains would use the expressway median the rest of the way, and the &quot;L&quot; over most of Lake Street could be removed.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-07-04--Jackson%20Blvd%20Subway.jpg" title="Jackson Boulevard Subway ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Jackson Boulevard subway was proposed as a streetcar tunnel as long ago as 1939. Later it was going to be used by the interurban trains of the Chicago, Aurora &amp; Elgin. &quot;New Horizons&quot; saw the subway as a downtown entry for Lake Street and Douglas Park trains. The two portals for the never-built Jackson subway are still visible next to the Congress portals, just east of Halsted.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/cta-we-didnt-get-part-two-102130 The CTA we didn't get http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/cta-we-didnt-get-102083 <p><p>A few weeks ago I mentioned the Silver Line, an &quot;L&quot;-subway proposed by CTA. Last time I checked, the line had not advanced beyond the talking stage. &nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s transit planners have never been afraid of making big plans. In 1958 CTA issued a detailed wish-list for the future titled &ldquo;New Horizons.&rdquo; Most of these proposals were never implemented, probably because of cost. Still, it is interesting to consider the transport system we might have had.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-06-01--Washington%20St%20Subway_0.jpg" title="Washington Street Subway ('New Horizons')" /></p><p>Streetcars on Washington Street crossed the Chicago River in a tunnel. During the 1930s the city proposed extending the tunnel all the way to Michigan Avenue, to ease congestion in the Loop. This was an update of the plan, featuring 1950s Twin Coach propane buses. It was never built.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-06-02--SW%20Expy-Calif_1.jpg" title="Southwest Expressway at California Avenue ('New Horizons')" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Though the city had proposed a subway for Archer Avenue in the 1930s, CTA&#39;s plan substituted a busway in the median of the Southwest (Stevenson) Expressway. The Orange Line was built instead, using existing railroad right-of-way. However, there&#39;s not a station at California Avenue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-06-03--North-Halsted%20Improvement.jpg" title="North-Halsted Improvement ('New Horizons')" /></div></div><p>This drawing was titled &quot;Easing Sharp Curves.&quot; It&#39;s clearly the Brown Line at North-Halsted (with a bus running on Clybourn, BTW). CTA later straightened some sharp curves at Kinzie-Franklin and Harrison-Wabash. But at this location, the tracks still snake around in their original route.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-06-04--South Expy 103rd-Doty_0.jpg" title="103rd-Stony Island Park 'n' Ride ('New Horizons')" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">CTA planned to have the east leg of its Dan Ryan (Red Line) service extend to 103rd-Stony Island, with a multi-story parking garage linked to the terminal. The west leg to 119th Street was supposed to be built later. Today 95th Street remains the end of the line.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Tomorrow on the blog, John Schmidt looks at more never-built CTA plans.&nbsp;</em></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 06 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/cta-we-didnt-get-102083 Chicago gets a subway http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-17/chicago-gets-subway-92157 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-17/subway_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In October 1943 Chicagoans took time off from World War II to enjoy a grand weekend celebration. After 40 years of talk, the city was opening its first subway.</p><p>Construction had taken five years. Though Chicago's transit lines were still privately-owned, the subway had been built by the city, with some help from the federal government. The price tag was $46 million--the equivalent of $720 million today.</p><p>On the new route, southbound trains left the "L" structure near Armitage and Sheffield. They then ran in the 4.9-mile-long tunnel under Clybourn, Division, and State, re-emerging at 15th and Wabash. Travel time through downtown was cut by a full 25 minutes.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-19/10-17--State St subway.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 409px;" title="Cutaway drawing of State-Adams station"></p><p>Chicago had actually started building two subways, with another tunnel following Milwaukee-Lake-Dearborn. Then the war came, and construction materials became scarce. The second subway would not be completed until 1951.</p><p>But on this glorious Saturday morning--October 16, 1943--the city was ready for a party.</p><p>Starting at 9:15, ten special trains were dispatched from ten different outer terminals along the "L" system. They carried various dignitaries to a rendevouz in the subway at State and Madison. When the lead train passed through the first underground station at North-Clybourn, it was saluted by the Lake View High School band, blasting out "El Capitan" from the platform.</p><p>One by one, the ten specials converged at State and Madison. The dignitaries got out, shook hands all around, and made a few speeches. At 10:47 Mayor Edward J. Kelly cut a ribbon strung across the northbound track. As the newsreel cameras whirled, the trains rumbled down the tracks. "This is the most significant event in Chicago history to date," the mayor declared.</p><p>Kelly and his cohort then marched upstairs to review a parade along State Street. Meanwhile, curious Chicagoans were invited to inspect the new tunnel. All that day they came, and looked, and swelled with pride at their city's latest wonder. At midnight, as Saturday became Sunday, regular subway service officially began.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="299" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-19/10-17--new subways.jpg" title="Chicago's 1941 Subway Master Plan" width="495"></p><p>City officials had ambitious plans for more subways. Existing "L" routes would get underground extentions. A line under Archer Avenue would link Municipal Airport with downtown. The ugly Loop elevated was going to be torn down, replaced by subways. Also on the drawing-board was an open-air line in the median of the planned Congress Expressway.</p><p>Only one of these lines was built--the Congress (now called the Eisenhower Blue Line). Opened in 1958, it became the prototype for other routes in other expressways. And since the Loop "L" has become a tourist attraction, any future subway construction now appears doubtful.</p><p>Here's a video from the archives that the City of Chicago produced in 1940 to demonstrate how the subway was dug:</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/30568829?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="400"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-17/chicago-gets-subway-92157 Rahm vows bus rapid transit, but can he deliver? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-23/Transmilenio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All this week, WBEZ is looking at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor" target="_blank">Rahm Emanuel’s first 100 days as Chicago mayor</a>.</p><p>One of Emanuel’s pledges is to push for the creation of the city’s first bus-rapid-transit line. The idea behind BRT is to deliver the benefits of rail at a fraction of the cost. BRT shortens travel times through dedicated bus lanes, pre-paid boarding that’s level with station platforms, and traffic signals that favor the buses.</p><p>WBEZ’s West Side bureau reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/chip-mitchell" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> gives us a progress report on Emanuel’s ambitious plan.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926