Diagram of the city center (lantern slide)

This image is a lantern slide version of a plate that appeared in the Plan of Chicago. Lantern slides had already been used for several centuries in magic shows to thrill audiences with ghost-like apparitions. For the Commercial Club, though, they provided a means by which their proposals could be shared with Chicagoans throughout the city. After bound copies of the Plan were printed, lantern slides were created based on several of its plates. In the manner of a modern digital slide show, these were projected in magnification by means of bright electrical “lanterns” to illustrate presentations organized to promote the Plan. This particular slide illustrates the Plan’s proposals for a more efficient public transportation system around the city center. Burnham and Bennett called for a rectangular subway circuit to connect passengers to existing elevated and mainline railroads. This circuit would replace the existing Loop elevated, which Burnham and Bennett found to be noisy and unsightly. To relieve on-street congestion, they called for subways to be built for streetcars as well; these are the dashed blue lines on this illustration, little of this scheme for the reorganization of public transportation was implemented. The elevated Loop remains to this day, and the two downtown subways for rapid transit lines were not completed until 1943 and 1951.



Barrett, Paul. The Automobile and Urban Transit: The Formation of Public Policy in Chicago, 1900-1930. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.

Cudahy, Brian J, Destination Loop: The Story of Rapid Transit Railroading in and around Chicago. Brattleboro, VT: S. Green Press, 1982.



The Art Institute of Chicago. “Images of the Plan.” http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/research/specialcollections/planofchi...

Plan of Chicago, Pl. 80, “Diagram of the city center,” Chicago, IL, c.1909. (Lantern slide) Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett, designers. HALIC, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago, Digital File #80373