Subway that never was, 1926

1 Mar


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From the annals of the newly formed, but now extinct, “Department of City Transit.” The actual name of the document is:  Communication from the City Transit Commission of Pittsburgh to the Mayor and City Council, containing a Report on a plan for financing initial subway construction in Pittsburgh. This one is from March 1926, building upon a previous report from 1917.

The document goes on to describe the “diagrammatical representation of a future comprehensive rapid transit system for Pittsburgh and we recommend that the first rapid transit unit of this system to be completed should be the so-called Fifth Avenue line from the North Side to the East End.” The northern terminus would be “either at Ohio Street or at North Avenue. The eastern terminal “would probably be at Frankstown Avenue near Dallas Avenue.”

This line would follow Federal Street…and would pass under the Allegheny River through subaqueous tunnels….The line would follow Sixth Street to Liberty Avenue and thence pass under private property to Fifth Avenue on the remainder of its route throught the central business district and thence proceed through the through the Oakland District to Craig Street at Fifth Avenue. After passing under private property to Neville Street, it would follow Ellsworth Avenue to Devonshire Street and thence proceed, mostly under private property to Center Avenue west of Liberty Avenue. It would follow Center Avenue to Penn Avenue in East Liberty and thence follow Frankstown Avenue to a terminal near Dallas.

While fun to imagine what Pittsburgh would look like if this had happened, it mostly fills me with sadness. Nearly 100 years later, the best we can come up with to replicate this is Bus Rapid Transit, and only to Oakland. Bummer.

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