Chicago streetcar map, 1924
Yes, every one of those red lines was an electric streetcar line.
Until the 1950s, Chicago had the biggest network of streetcars the world has ever seen. The whole city was built around them.
The streets we have in Chicago were not designed to be filled with cars and buses in heavy traffic and parked cars everywhere.
Our streets were designed for streetcars and pedestrians.
In the 1950s, we replaced our streetcars with diesel buses and private automobiles, and soon the streets were jammed with traffic. We've expanded the roads and built urban and interstate highways, but the new roads just encourage more driving, and congestion gets steadily worse no matter how much we spend on new roads. Today we have some of the worst traffic congestion in America. It costs us $7.3 billion a year in wasted time.
State Street, 1910: shopping is for pedestrians.
What will happen to these retail businesses when we replace each streetcar with fifty speeding automobiles and devote a third of the street space to storing personal cars for later use?
Clark Street, 1955: Chicago's last streetcar line.