St. Louis planned subway system map, 1926
In the 1920s, St. Louis was the sixth-largest city in the country, and its civic backers called it "the miracle city," for reasons that are lost to time. (The Roaring Twenties publicity that I have takes it for granted that St. Louis, with "the ideal combination of the chief factors for manufacturing and distribution," would be so named.) The Roaring Twenties were a good decade for St. Louis, even though Prohibition had crushed the city's brewing industry. The city boasted a large, diversified economy based on manufacturing, with the largest industries being footwear, insurance, food processing, and hardware production.
St. Louis's streetcar system was run by the United Railways Co., which had a monopoly over local transportation. United Railways' system was bursting at the seams in the 1920s, and the growing number of motorists on the city's streets weren't making matters any better. Thus, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen commissioned a project to put the streetcars underground through downtown, similar to the Green Line light rail in Boston. Unlike the Boston Green Line, the 1926 project was designed to be convertible into a full-blown subway system. This conversion is the "Step Two" depicted here.
In the end, though, it never came to pass. Three years later, the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression followed, putting an end to these plans.
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