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San Francisco's Version of the EL Train

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Introducing Curbed SF's newest series Curbed's Could Have Been, where we investigate some of the most outlandish and grandiose proposals that were never built. Know of a plan that never saw the light of day? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Diagram showing proposed elevated train on Market at Stockton, 1937 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

The 1930s was a busy decade for Bay Area transportation - the construction of the two major bridges caused some serious traffic jams in downtown San Francisco. In 1937, WPA workers undertook a city-wide traffic survey, and traffic consultant Miller McClintock suggested that routes were needed to bypass the congested downtown in his "Limited Way Plan." One component of the plan was elevated highways and train lines.

Cross section of proposed elevated train on Market Street, 1937 [Photo: Eric Fischer]

The Limited Way Plan would have been a massive undertaking, including surface and underground freeways. There were to be 65 miles of divided freeways across the city, including an elevated freeway along the Embarcadero (sounds familiar). The plan would have cost about $26 million, which is the equivalent of about $400 million today. Ironically, the 1937 plan turned out to be a precursor to many of the freeways built after World War II.

McClintock's Limited Way Plan, 1937 (click to enlarge) [Photo: Eric Fischer]

· The San Francisco Bay Area: A Metropolis in Perspective by Mel Scott [Google Books]