Van Buren Street Tunnel

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From 1894 to 1906 Chicago had three cable car tunnels under the Chicago River. Shipping traffic required movable bridges, causing traffic delays and operating problems for the new mass transit systems. Two existing public tunnels were converted for cable use, and a third was built as a private venture. The reversing of the Chicago River in 1900 lowered the water level, and in 1904 the US Congress declared all three tunnels hazards to navigation. With the end of cable car service in 1906, all three were closed, lowered, and converted to electric streetcar service.

Washington Street tunnel[edit]

History[edit]

The Washington Street tunnel was the first pedestrian and horse-drawn traffic tunnel under the river. J.L. Lake was awarded the contract to construct the tunnel in July 1867 and its construction was completed January 1, 1869. This tunnel was 1605 feet long, from Franklin Avenue west to Clinton Avenue, and cost $517,000. Used as an escape route during the Great Chicago Fire, by 1884 the tunnel was in poor repair, and had been closed. The West Chicago Street Railroad Company leased the tunnel for their northwest lines. After spending $200,000 in repairs and improvements, the tunnel opened on August 12, 1890 beginning cable car service which lasted until August 19, 1906. The reversing of the Chicago River exposed the tunnel in 1900 and several ships ran aground on it, damaging the roof. After the closure in 1906 a wider and deeper replacement was built under the original. George W. Jackson (also chief engineer of the Illinois Tunnel Co. [1]) was the contractor for the rebuilt tunnel.[2] It opened to electric streetcar service on January 29, 1911. The Washington Street tunnel was in use until 1953. By 2013 both approaches had been covered.[3][4][5][6][7]

Plans for subways[edit]

Plans were made to incorporate the tunnel into a high-level subway to run under Washington Street between Clinton Street and Grand Park.[8] The plans were expanded after the Second World War to add an additional high-level subway running parallel to the Washington Street line under Jackson Street, similarly using the tunnel located between Jackson and Van Buren Streets.[9] Both would be tied into another subway tunnel to be dug under Clinton Street, proposed in the interim.[10] The only construction accomplished in advance of these plans were the pair of portals in the Eisenhower Expressway median, 200 feet east of Halsted Street, constructed in 1952 simultaneously with the pair of portals for the Blue Line,[11] and the double-wide station built at Peoria Street in 1964 to accommodate the anticipated platform north of the UIC-Halsted platform for the Blue Line.[12] In 1951-1952, the plans were modified to use the Washington Street subway as a busway rather than as a train tunnel, while Clinton and Jackson tunnels were merged and remained a rail plan.[13] The plan was cancelled in April 1962, although the design and placement of the Peoria Street station house went unchanged.[4][14]

LaSalle Street tunnel[edit]

History[edit]

The LaSalle Street tunnel was Chicago's second tunnel under the Chicago River. It was started November 3, 1869, and completed July 4, 1871. It was designed by William Bryson who was the resident engineer for the just completed Washington Street Tunnel. It was 1,890 feet (576m) long, from Randolph Street North to Michigan (now Hubbard) Street, and cost $566,000. Originally built for pedestrian and horse-drawn traffic, on March 23, 1888 the North Chicago Street Railroad leased the tunnel for their North side routes, and it was used for cable car service until October 21, 1906. The reversing of the Chicago River exposed the tunnel in 1900 and a wider, deeper replacement was built in a drydock on Goose Island from steel plate. When the tunnel closed to cable cars in 1906 the replacement was lowered into a trench in the riverbed. It opened to electric streetcar service in July 21, 1912. The LaSalle Street tunnel was in use until November 27, 1939, when it was closed during the construction of the Milwaukee-Lake-Dearborn-Congress subway, the Lake & LaSalle (now Clark & Lake) station of which intersected the tunnel's south ramp under Lake Street. By 1950 the south approach had been covered, the tunnel and the north approach were filled and covered by 1953.[3][4][5][6][15][16]

Van Buren Street tunnel[edit]

History[edit]

The Van Buren Street tunnel was Chicago's third tunnel under the Chicago River. The two previous tunnels, under LaSalle and Washington Streets, were built and owned by the City of Chicago, but the Van Buren Street tunnel was a private venture. An 1888 ordinance allowed the West Chicago Street Railroad to build and own a river crossing for cable or electric streetcars. A 1,514 foot long tunnel, from Franklin Street west to Clinton Street, just north of Van Buren Street, opened for the company’s southwest lines on March 24, 1894.[3][5] The reversing of the Chicago River in 1900 caused a legal battle over who would pay for the changes, the city or the railway. A 1906 US Supreme Court ruling required the railway to lower or remove the tunnel at their own expense. The tunnel was closed to cable car service on July 22, 1906.[17] A deeper replacement was built thru the original tunnel and opened to electric streetcar service in 1910. Closed in 1915 to construct the approaches to the new Union Station, it was reopened in 1916. Closed to regular service in 1924, the tunnel was maintained for emergency use and training until 1952, when all service ended.[4][5][6]

Plans for subways[edit]

Plans were made to incorporate the tunnel into a high-level subway to run under Jackson Street between Clinton Street and Grand Park, along with parallel route under Washington Street, utilizing that street's similar tunnel under the river[9] Both would be tied into another subway tunnel to be dug under Clinton Street.[10] The only construction accomplished in advance of these plans were the pair of portals in the Eisenhower Expressway median, 200 feet east of Halsted Street, constructed in 1952 simultaneously with the pair of portals for the Blue Line,[11] and the double-wide station built at Peoria Street in 1964 to accommodate the anicipated platform north of the UIC-Halsted platform for the Blue Line.[12] In 1951-1952, the plans were modified to merge the Clinton and Jackson routes and convert the Washington Street subway as a busway rather than as a train tunnel.[13] The plan was cancelled in April 1962, although the design and placement of the Peoria Street stationhouse remained unchanged.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Moffat, Bruce (1982). Forty Feet Below. Interurban Press. pp. 12, 14–16, 20–22, 33, 43. ISBN 0-916374-54-8. 
  2. ^ Method of Reconstructing the Washington Street Tunnel of the Chicago Railways Company; a New and Economical Method of Constructing Tunnels, Engineering and Contracting, Vol. XXXIII, No. 16 (April 20, 1910); page 356. Note: Illustrated.
  3. ^ a b c Borzo, Greg (2012). Chicago Cable Cars. The History Press. pp. 136–139. ISBN 978-1-60949-327-1. 
  4. ^ a b c d Lind, Alan R. (1979). Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History(3rd ed.). Transit History Press. pp. 210–219. ISBN 0-394732-00-0. LCCN 74-75870. 
  5. ^ a b c d Chicago Fire Insurance Maps Volume 1. Sanborn Map. 1906. pp. 19S, 75W. 
  6. ^ a b c "Tunnels". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society and The Newberry Library. 2005. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Google Maps". Google. 2013. Retrieved 28 Mar 2013. 
  8. ^ Chicago Department of Subways and Traction, A Comprehensive Plan for the Extension of the Subway System of the City of Chicago Including Provision for the Widening of E. and W. Congress Street (Chicago: City of Chicago, October 30, 1939), 2-3, III; and City of Chicago, Department of Subways and Superhighways, Second [sic] Annual Report of the Department of Subways and Superhighways, City of Chicago, for the Year Ending December 31, 1940 (Chicago: City of Chicago, December 31, 1940), 1.
  9. ^ a b City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Superhighways, Eighth Annual Report of the Department of Subways and Superhighways, City of Chicago, for the Year Ending December 31, 1946.
  10. ^ a b City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Superhighways, Sixth Annual Report of the Department of Subways and Superhighways, City of Chicago, for the Year Ending December 31, 1944.
  11. ^ a b City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Superhighways, Fourteenth Annual Report of the Department of Subways and Superhighways, City of Chicago, for the Year Ending December 31, 1952, 36-37.
  12. ^ a b City of Chicago, Department of Development and Planning, Chicago Plan Commission, 1963 Annual Report (Chicago: City of Chicago, 1963), 22.
  13. ^ a b Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Transit Authority's Proposed $315,000,000 Transit Expansion and Improvement Program (Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority, 1957), New Horizons for Chicago Metropolitan Area (Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority, 1958), and T.E.D. 8-320 (map) (Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority, September 30, 1958).
  14. ^ a b Chicago Transit Board, Plan for Expanding Rapid Transit Service in the Central Area of Chicago (Chicago: Chicago Transit Board, April 20, 1962), 1, 6-7, 10-11.
  15. ^ Genzen, Jonathan (2007). The Chicago River: A History in Photographs. Westcliffe Publishers. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-1-56579-553-2. LCCN 2006022119. 
  16. ^ Chicago Fire Insurance Maps Volume 1. Sanborn Map. 1950. pp. 14S, 34N. 
  17. ^ "W.C.S.R. v. Chicago". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. 1906. Retrieved 19 March 2013.