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The CTA we didn't get

A look at some of the proposals floated in the CTA’s visionary 1958 plan, “New Horizons.”

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A few weeks ago I mentioned the Silver Line, an “L"-subway proposed by CTA. Last time I checked, the line had not advanced beyond the talking stage.

Chicago’s transit planners have never been afraid of making big plans. In 1958 CTA issued a detailed wish-list for the future titled “New Horizons.” Most of these proposals were never implemented, probably because of cost. Still, it is interesting to consider the transport system we might have had.

Washington Street Subway ('New Horizons')

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.

Southwest Expressway at California Avenue ('New Horizons')


Though the city had proposed a subway for Archer Avenue in the 1930s, CTA’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’s not a station at California Avenue.

North-Halsted Improvement ('New Horizons')

This drawing was titled “Easing Sharp Curves.” It’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.

103rd-Stony Island Park 'n' Ride ('New Horizons')


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.

Tomorrow on the blog, John Schmidt looks at more never-built CTA plans.

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