The Wandering Lion
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A Comprehensive Plan for a Passenger Subway System for the City of ChicagoState and Jackson Chicago Subway Plan 1911

In 1911 a plan for a comprehensive passenger subway system for the City of Chicago was developed by Bion J. Arnold, Chief Subway Engineer. The seventy-five page volume contains extensive prose detailing the planning, scheduling and cost of building the system. In addition, twenty-two large-scale drawings and maps accompany the prose. An example of one such drawing appears at the top of this page.

The total of all estimates for the various stages of contructing the system was just short of $65 million. What a steal! Inflation calculators don't start until 1913, the first year for which we have a CPI. But based on 1913, $65 million would be about $1.5 billion today.That's still an amazing bargain!

As Daniel Burnham once said, "Make no small plans." Sadly, this system was apparently dismissed out of hand as an impossible dream, since none of it was ever implemented so far as I know. But the plan remains.

Here's a PDF (17.3 Megabytes) of the full plan for download. Enjoy!