It’s a complicated setup that the esteemed Mr. Parsons and company had drawn up in 1905. While initially I had just laid out the route after eye-balling the line drawing map that came with it, I had always intended to assign the text of each description to it’s appropriate section. Which given Google Maps’ constraints would involve recreating each line. Promise to have the route up and ready as soon as possible. And later on, an amalgam of all of the planned routes of 1905 into one map.
And you thought the IND’s Second System was huge. This, my friends is thus far the trippiest of the ego trips I’ve come across. It covers the ENTIRE city, ALL five boroughs including the waterfront of Hudson County, NJ (to be discussed in a future post). This map was included in the second of two New York Times’ articles on the plan. What I love is that this wasn’t submitted by some advisory panel or consulting engineer, but by the subway builders’ themselves. It was completed by “Daniel L. Turner, chief engineer in the office of John H. Delaney, Transit Construction Commissioner”:
Click on the “View Full Article” link below each to see a scanned pdf of each. Courtesy of the New York Times.
October 3, 1920: “CITY’S GROWTH DISCOUNTED IN PLANS FOR ADDING 830 MILES OF TRACK TO RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEMS; Work to Cover Period of Twenty-five Years and Cost $350,000,000—New Lines and Extensions Would Provide for a Population of Nine Millions and Carry Five Billion Passengers”
I really like the way Daniel L. Turner thinks. He espouses the famous maxim attributed to Chicago city planner Daniel Burnham, “Make no small plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood”. (I wonder if the two Daniels ever knew each other.) The goal of the plan was to ultimately eliminate all surface transit with elevateds, open-cuts, or subways as well as underground moving sidewalks (which had lately received much notoriety in the blogosphere). Many of the routes or their corridors in Manhattan, southern/western Bronx, and Brooklyn where already planned for rapid transit back in 1905 by William Barclay Parsons. The lines going to northeastern Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island were laid out first by Alfred Craven and then Mr. Turner. Later the Board of Transportation’s IND would seemingly grandfather-in many of their plans from Turner’s. (Notice what would be today’s Culver IND and Fulton IND, but with notable exception is Queens Boulevard.)
My only criticism of Turner’s plans is the insistence on parallel routes. It would have been better to mimic the pattern of railroad building and create multiple hub and spoke routes. The hubs around NYC include the downtowns of Flushing, Jamaica and Brooklyn plus Long Island City, Broadway Junction (BK), South Bronx, and St. George (SI).
If, nowadays, the city, state, and the MTA can get past their endless series crisis management, then a “100 Year Blueprint” on this scale should be produced and adhered to like a city charter.
Oh, you know I’m gonna create a Google Map of this. If anyone has more detailed information on the plans, please post them and give me a heads up.
One project towards that goal is the restoration of 129th Street through the St. Nicholas Houses:
One agency that’s doing some interesting work to connect housing policy with urban design is the New York City Housing Authority. NYCHA General Manager Mike Kelly pointed to a site where enhancing walkability is also helping to add and improve housing. At the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem, NYCHA plans to restore the street grid to a towers-in-the-park superblock, extending 129th Street from Frederick Douglass Boulevard to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.
IMO, restoring the road without restoring the “streetwall” would be better for cars than people.
In a “satellite” photo of Downtown Brooklyn from 1924—long before Cadman Plaza and MetroTech—the area is thick with buildings with little if any greenery:
Plus they provide a shelter, for those within, from the demolition derby of the road.
They’re very pedestrian friendly, but if we want walkability then allow the ground floor the buildings to be rented out for shops. Or if we’re going to restore the road, then restore the original streetwall.
In honor of the permanent change in the routing of the G train, I present to you the B’klyn–Queens Crosstown as it could have been:
Now this would have changed the nature of Midtown. Imagine everything from Madison Square to Herald Square and from Murray Hill to Penn Station—all park land. All that remains of it is Madison Square Park. As it’s name implies, Parade would have served primarily as parade grounds for military exercises, drills and pageantry. Like armories they would eventually be used by cities for more civilian purposes. Like “Market Place”, I like the name “Parade”. It seems down-to-earth and to-the-point. Perhaps later on some bombastic committee of city patricians would successfully petition to have it renamed.
All that remains is Tompkins Square. Would’ve added a lot of green to the Lower East Side. I rather like the name Market Place, it seems to hearken back to the pre-modern tendency to name parks and commons to be descriptive or even utilitarian rather than commemorative. Makes me imagine merchants, artisans, hucksters, itinerant performers and such, all gathered under the eaves and lanes of Market Place.
Behold the greenery that could have been had the corrupt politicians out of Gangs of New York not run this city.