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.