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Transportation in the "Plan of Chicago"

The Plan of Chicago  treated “Transportation” and “Streets within the City,” in two separate chapters, as two separate subjects. Transportation had to do primarily with the movement of associated with commerce and freight, and secondarily with passenger trains and public transportation moving into or through the city. Streets, though acknowledged as routes of travel used by commerce and as means of circulation for people throughout the city, were also seen as architectural statements and as forms of open space. Transportation, in the form of railroads and shipping, was necessary, even vital, but seen as something to be hidden from view, or at least to be beautified to the extent possible. By contrast, streets, avenues, and boulevards, were to be exalted. In the City Beautiful they were aesthetic amenities, the framework for admiring the built city and its open and public spaces. Some of the most sophisticated maps in the plan are found in these chapters, dedicated to analyzing and sorting out the movement of freight and other traffic on water, street, and rail. Yet, the vast rail network for which the city was justly famous, and which had figured so prominently in earlier views of Chicago, is almost non-existent in the cityscape envisioned by the plan’s artists. Ironically, while the much of the plan was devoted to the improvement of the city’s commercial infrastructure, to a considerable extent the views and panoramas of the Plan of Chicago seem to deny the existence of commercial activity in this great commercial city.