Among the most significant and enduring changes to central Chicago inspired by the Plan of Chicago was the widening and construction of new thoroughfares in the downtown area. The construction of North Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive are the most important examples with the most durable effects on the geography of the central city. These roads were intended to decrease congestion by separating commercial from local traffic and expanding the capacity of the roadways. At the same time, in homage to the model boulevards of Paris and other European cities, these roads would improve sightlines and beautify the central city. The Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue improvement projects were executed during a time when automobiles were becoming the predominant mode of urban transportation. The new avenues quickly became preferred routes for automobiles, but in the long run their construction did not diminish congestion in the city. Envisioned with nineteenth-century habits of movement in mind, they became harbingers of the automobile age and new forms of urban congestion.



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