Historical Map: Detail of a Tokyo Streetcar Map, c. 1950
Not much more to say here except that this is gorgeous, despite the primitive artwork and terrible colour registration.
Source: Fluoride’s memories/Flickr
Historical Map: Theoretical Diagram of Proposed Transit System, St. Louis, Missouri, 1919
Here’s a map that hyperrealcartography would love: an audacious, almost outrageous, proposal for a transit system in St. Louis drawn up by the City Plan Commission in 1919. The final proposed system shown here would have had the existing streetcars and new rapid transit lines operating side-by-side, described like this in the full proposal:
"The rapid transit system is separated into two distinct systems, that for the routing of surface cars in the downtown district, and that for a distinctly rapid transit system that would operate entirely by subway or elevated tracks within the city. There will be no contact of the two systems, excepting that the stations may be operated in common."
Under this proposal, almost every major street in the city would have had streetcar service. Many of the east-west routes (top to bottom on this diagram) would have funnelled towards new subway loops under the business district, which would have required the total abandonment of the 8th Street railway tunnel (now used by the Metrolink light rail). Seven crosstown lines would have provided comprehensive service for those wishing to bypass downtown.
Note that this is very definitely a theoretical diagram of the system, not a map. Even a very cursory glance at St. Louis in Google Maps reveals that the city’s actual layout is nowhere near as uniform and compliant as this.
The cost for this little project? Around $97 million in 1919: equating to a cool $1.1 billion in today’s money.
Source: Gateway Streets/Flickr
P.S. The entire proposal is scanned and available to read on Google Books: definitely worth a look if you’re interested in early 20th-century city planning.
Historical Map: Comprehensive Rapid Transit Plan for the City and County of Los Angeles, 1925
This is one of the earliest plans commissioned by the City and County of Los Angeles. The consultants — Kelker, De Leuw and Co. of Chicago — were asked to create a plan to accommodate a future city population of three million.
Metro’s own history archive has this to say about the project:
The plan shows a number of proposed immediate and future subways: one across Hollywood to La Brea Boulevard, another from downtown to 7th Street, up Vermont Avenue, and across Third Street. It initially would have run to Larchmont Boulevard as subway with a future extension on elevated rail to Third Street and down Wilshire Boulevard to Beverly Hills and the ocean in Santa Monica. It also shows a subway from downtown across Pico Boulevard, initially to Rimpau Boulevard with a future extension to Venice Beach.
Solid lines on both the regional map and the urban map represent mass rapid transit routes recommended for immediate construction to relieve downtown congestion. Dotted lines predict future extensions that will be necessary to serve population increases. The plan recommended for immediate construction of 153 miles of subway, elevated rail, and street railways at a projected cost of $133,385,000. Strong opposition by the business community to planned sections of elevated rail, as well as voter reluctance to tax themselves to benefit the privately held Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway effectively shelved the plan.
The map itself is a superb example of cartography, complete with some lovely contour work on the mountains around the city and simply lovely hand-drawn typography — check out the loveliness of that “PACIFIC OCEAN” label.
The map does a lot with a limited colour palette, but it’s effective: existing rapid transit in black, proposed lines in red, and everything else in a pleasant (and visually recessive) gold. It’s worth noting that there aren’t any roads shown on this map, just the tracks of the two main streetcar companies, the Los Angeles Railway and the Pacific Electric Railway (see this contemporaneous map of that system).
Our rating: Gorgeous, and fun to compare against the actual existing Metrorail system. Four stars!
Source: LA Metro archive library (lots of other fun planning maps there!)
Historical Map: Map of Glasgow Corporation Transport Services, c. 1934
A handsomely drawn map that does some sterling work with just three colours (a very modern combination of black, cyan and magenta!).
Of particular note is the clever way that a solid magenta line (bus service), can be combined with a dashed black line (trams) to indicate where both types of transportation share the same route without having to draw two separate lines. Interestingly, buses appear to have route numbers, while trams are designated by their final destination only.
Glasgow’s single circular subway line is shown in nicely contrasting cyan, as are neighbourhood labels and the River Clyde.
Submission — Historical Map: Boston Elevated Railway System Map, c. 1946
Kindly sent my way by Ross Howard from his personal collection is this great old map of the Boston Elevated Railway (or BERy).
Ross thought it may have been from the 1930s, but a little Googling has revealed that this version — the seventh edition — was released in 1946-1947, making it the last BERy map before its operations were taken over by the MTA, itself a predecessor to the current MBTA.
The map itself is a fine example of precise mid-20th century cartography, making good use of minimal colour. I also like the great typography and the wonderful compass rose logo on the cover. The house ad for travelling via “El” to the Airport is interesting: shuttle buses still run from the Blue Line to Logan to this very day.
Historical Photo: Streetcars on an Inclined Railway, Cincinnati, 1904
Not a map, but included because this is possibly the strangest piece of transit infrastructure I’ve ever seen. Discovered while researching the post about Cincinnati’s abandoned subway, this photo shows what happened when that city’s streetcars met the steep hills surrounding the downtown area.
At this time, the streetcars were used in conjunction with four of Cincinnati’s five inclined railways: the Mount Adams Incline, Mount Auburn Incline, Bellevue Incline, and the Fairview Incline. The cars would be driven onto the platform, which was level and was equipped with rails and (in most cases) overhead trolley wires. The platform, riding on its own rails, would then be pulled up the hill by the cable, carrying the streetcar. Upon reaching the top, the streetcar could simply be driven off the platform onto the standard track along city streets. The 1872-opened Mount Adams Incline began carrying horsecars in 1877, and it was later strengthened for use by electric streetcars, which were much heavier.
More information on the inclines here.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Historical Map: “Future Growth and Improvement” Map for Lansing, Michigan, 1921
Here’s a simply beautiful map from the 1920s, showing a comprehensive proposed future plan for the city. Along with the extensive and fastidious plans for the extension of the city’s street grid (the web of red extending outwards from the core), the map also shows existing and proposed streetcars with solid and dashed thicker red lines, respectively.
The map also audaciously proposes that the main line railroads be placed onto an elevated viaduct through downtown, something that never actually happened.
Finally, I absolutely love the graceful hand-drawn typography on this — stunning!
Historical Maps: Surface Trolley Lines and Elevated/Subway Lines of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, 1913
A superb pair of maps that depict the trolley lines (top) and elevated and subway lines (bottom) of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT) Company as they would appear after the work specified in the famous “Dual Contracts" agreement was completed. Much of today’s existing subway system came about because of this contract, as can be seen from the red (proposed) lines on the lower map.
For me, the top map is even more interesting — it shows how incredibly dense the trolley system in Brooklyn was at the time.
(Source: University of Texas Library map collection)
Historical Map: Southern Pacific “Red Electric” Tracks in Downtown Portland, c. 1920
Scanned from the book “The Red Electrics: Southern Pacific’s Oregon Interurbans" by Tom Dill and Walter Grande.
This handsome map shows the routing of the Southern Pacific’s electric interurban trains through downtown Portland from their northern terminus at Union Station. These trains, popularly known as the “Red Electrics” after their distinctive carriages, ran from Portland all the way down the Willamette Valley as far as Corvallis, 85 miles distant. Service started in 1914, extended to Corvallis in 1917 and ceased in 1929; just 15 years later.
These big, heavy trains ran right down the middle of Fourth Avenue from Union Station with an intermediate stop at Stark and Fourth. At Fourth and Jefferson, the lines split into two services: the “Westside” route served Beaverton, Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Carlton, while the “Eastside” line served Oswego, Sherwood, Newberg and Lafayette. The two routes connected in Saint Joseph, just north of McMinnville, and then continued to Corvallis.
Of further interest, the map also shows the route of the competing Oregon Electric company, running down 10th Avenue and Salmon Street. Their terminus station was at 10th and Hoyt (the train barns still exist, repurposed as fancy loft apartments on either side of 10th Avenue), with stations at 10th and Stark, 10th and Alder, Salmon and 5th/6th, and Jefferson and Front (modern-day Naito). Also seen is the incredible network of streetcar lines at the time, visible on almost every downtown street!
Historical Map: The Plan of Chicago — Proposed Arrangement of Railroad Stations, 1909
A plate from the hugely influential 1909 Plan of Chicago (also known as “the Burnham Plan” after its primary author, the renowned architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham) showing proposed amendments and additions to the railroads of the city.
The thin red lines show main line railroads, which were going to be rerouted to two mega-stations to the south and west of the downtown area. To facilitate movement between these stations, an ambitious plan of subterranean streetcars (blue lines) and subway trains (dashed red lines) was proposed in addition to the already existing “El”. It’s hard to make out without viewing the image at its largest size on Flickr, but the “El” is shown by thin orange lines on the map.
In the end, little of this part of the plan was ever implemented. A new Chicago Union Station was finished in 1925, but no other stations were consolidated or relocated. In 1929, the South Branch of the Chicago River was rechanneled between Polk and 18th Streets to untangle railroad approaches as recommended by the plan. However, its importance as a part of this vastly influential document cannot be underestimated.
(Source: Penn State Libraries Pictures Collection/Flickr)