Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

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tgolanos
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by tgolanos » Thu May 31, 2012 2:49 pm

scotty269 wrote:...*Re-addition of passenger trains via CSX Trenton Line
Ah. That makes sense that that would be it. I forgot about that proposal.
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Trackseventeen
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Trackseventeen » Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:44 am

Yes, I have seen the map Tim is talking about in that book. It was called the Mack combine. It was an elevated system that was to be financed behind the scenes by August Belmont and fronted by a gentleman with the last name of Mack... I forget his first name. A new company was to be the operator, but I forget the name of it.. Since this system had it origins in the early 1890's, the hub of the system was the area of 2nd and Market, not Broad and Market like the system we have now. The main route of the system was of course, an elevated along the whole length of Market Street, with branches down Woodland Ave and up Lancaster Ave, with a Parkside Avenue spur to serve the FPT Woodside Trolley. There was also a delivery loop like Chicago's with lines radiating out the whole length of Ridge, Germantown, Frankford and Passayunk Avenues. I'm not sure which streets the loop was on, but it was in the Olde City vicinity. This combine was actually the catalyst of why the PRT eventually got the rights to build the Market Street Line. Every single avenue listed above had a Union Traction trolley line running on it, and these new el lines would surely siphon off riders. Although the city fathers were intrigued by a shiny new elevated system, they really wanted a subway under Market Street, not an el...at least not between the rivers. So the management of Union got together and formed a new company, the PRT and proposed a counter offer to the Mack lines, basically promising the same lines... but the difference being a Market Street subway. The city accepted the PRT proposal... it would be a fool not to, since PRT would build the subway with private funds... not even NYC's subway were built privately. Well, after the MSL was complete, PRT found itself practically out of funds and informed the city it could no longer keep its promise to build the other lines. By this time, Belmont was too preoccupied with his dealings in NY to build the other lines. This is how the infamous agreement of 1907 came about. The agreement is very complicated, but basically PRT sold it soul to the devil for the right of no competition in Philly.

Too bad the Mack wasn't built, because although the thrust of downtown would move west, most of these el's could have been tied in with the eventual Broad Steet system.

Plus, don't confuse the Mack combine with the city initiated 1912 master plan spearheaded by A. Merritt Taylor... that's a whole other system entirely, some of which most of you know brought us the Frankford el and the Broad Street subway.
900,000 tons of steel, made to roll
The brakes don't work and this grade's so steep
her engines sure to blow...
900,000 tons of steel, out of control
She's more a roller coaster, than the train I used to know.

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TWTRTECH
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by TWTRTECH » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:55 pm

Trackseventeen wrote:Yes, I have seen the map Tim is talking about in that book. It was called the Mack combine. It was an elevated system that was to be financed behind the scenes by August Belmont and fronted by a gentleman with the last name of Mack... I forget his first name. A new company was to be the operator, but I forget the name of it.. Since this system had it origins in the early 1890's, the hub of the system was the area of 2nd and Market, not Broad and Market like the system we have now. The main route of the system was of course, an elevated along the whole length of Market Street, with branches down Woodland Ave and up Lancaster Ave, with a Parkside Avenue spur to serve the FPT Woodside Trolley. There was also a delivery loop like Chicago's with lines radiating out the whole length of Ridge, Germantown, Frankford and Passayunk Avenues. I'm not sure which streets the loop was on, but it was in the Olde City vicinity. This combine was actually the catalyst of why the PRT eventually got the rights to build the Market Street Line. Every single avenue listed above had a Union Traction trolley line running on it, and these new el lines would surely siphon off riders. Although the city fathers were intrigued by a shiny new elevated system, they really wanted a subway under Market Street, not an el...at least not between the rivers. So the management of Union got together and formed a new company, the PRT and proposed a counter offer to the Mack lines, basically promising the same lines... but the difference being a Market Street subway. The city accepted the PRT proposal... it would be a fool not to, since PRT would build the subway with private funds... not even NYC's subway were built privately. Well, after the MSL was complete, PRT found itself practically out of funds and informed the city it could no longer keep its promise to build the other lines. By this time, Belmont was too preoccupied with his dealings in NY to build the other lines. This is how the infamous agreement of 1907 came about. The agreement is very complicated, but basically PRT sold it soul to the devil for the right of no competition in Philly.

Too bad the Mack wasn't built, because although the thrust of downtown would move west, most of these el's could have been tied in with the eventual Broad Steet system.

Plus, don't confuse the Mack combine with the city initiated 1912 master plan spearheaded by A. Merritt Taylor... that's a whole other system entirely, some of which most of you know brought us the Frankford el and the Broad Street subway.
Thanks Trackseventeen, very interesting.

sammy2009
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by sammy2009 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:26 pm

Love the history ;) quick question comes to mind. Do you think if any of these subways was built would they still be in service today ? With all the underfunding that happened and political unfairness ?

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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Trackseventeen » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:05 pm

sammy2009 wrote:Love the history ;) quick question comes to mind. Do you think if any of these subways was built would they still be in service today ? With all the underfunding that happened and political unfairness ?

Sammy, I'm glad you asked that, since I'm infatuated with what Philly might have been... had rapid transit reached every neighborhood early on in the turn of the century. The quick answer is Yes... all of the lines in the Mack combine would survive to today... but only in pieces. What do I mean by that? Well, look at NYC before the first IRT subway was built. You had the Manhattan el's which stretched all the way to the Bronx, plus over in Brooklyn there was elevated lines and surface railroads terminating at the Brooklyn Bridge and East River ferries. Once it was evident that subways were the preferred mode in Manhattan and also the more denser areas of the outer boroughs, some of these older el lines and surface railroads were either abandoned or integrated into the new subway network.

As before stated, the Mack combine was a 100% elevated system, which incidentally spelled its doom... since the city fathers in no way wanted a noisy, ugly el line wrapping around their brand new city hall. But just for a moment suppose the system was built, here is what it would have consisted of.

1- An elevated from Front and Market out to 63rd street.
2- A branch off the Market line down Woodland Ave to Darby.
3- A branch off the Market line up Lancaster Ave out to City Line Ave in Overbrook. (Spur to 40th & Parkside)
4- A Passayunk Ave line going from the Schuylkill River to Front and Market using 4th or 5th streets.
5- A line from Front and Snyder all the way to the city limit at Andalusia via Front Street, Delaware Ave and
Frankford Ave.
6- A branch off the #5 @ Germantown & Front out Germantown to Chestnut Hill.
7- A Ridge Ave line going from Front and Market to Andorra using 6th street with a Main Street spur serving
Manayunk.

As you can see, this system was centered on Olde City, which for the 1890's made total sense. All these lines were tied together, by what looks like some kind of loop on the map. So you asked which lines would survive to today... I say all of them except mostly as branches of a Broad Street subway which still surely would have been built. With the opening of city hall the center of Philly' s commerce quickly moved westward. The need for all these lines terminating at the river would diminish, yet the need for the lines would remain. So here is what I envision what we might have today, if the Mack was built. It is somewhat different what I envision if the Taylor plan had been built.

Eventually the Market Street Line would have been put underground between the rivers, with the original structure west of the Schuylkill remaining intact with both branches. Eventually the sections thru University city probably would be put under ground also... since this actually happened in the 50s.

A Broad Street subway would definitely have been built. When this happened, I could see the sections of the Ridge and Germantown Ave lines being torn down east of Broad... with portals being built for each line funneling trains downtown via Broad. I see the same thing happening with the Passayunk Ave line... demolition east of Broad, being tied into the subway with a new portal, but I also see an extension of the line out to Eastwick Meadows.(It would have been cool though to have an el train going overhead at Pat and Geno's steaks).

As far as the line on Front/Delaware/Frankford... that's a wild card. Somehow the Frankford stretch would have been tied into something.
900,000 tons of steel, made to roll
The brakes don't work and this grade's so steep
her engines sure to blow...
900,000 tons of steel, out of control
She's more a roller coaster, than the train I used to know.

Suburban Station
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Suburban Station » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:23 pm

the mfl opened in 1907 before the taylor plan which itself wasnt implemented. the city built the parkway instead of the subway system of course every generation added to the system a little except the last one and perhaps the current one (well see if the navy yard gets built, that was proposed under the taylor plan as well known as league island at the time ). thanks id never heard of this earlier elevated plan

Clearfield
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Clearfield » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:27 pm

Suburban Station wrote:well see if the navy yard gets built
The Navy Yard extension has a good chance of being built IF it has broad political support locally, and qualifies for federal funding as a new start.

There are State Representatives in SEPTA's 5 county region who voted NO to the transportation funding bill that is already breathing new life into the system.

In this region, IF is a HUGE word.
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Suburban Station
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Suburban Station » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:34 pm

Clearfield wrote:
Suburban Station wrote:well see if the navy yard gets built
The Navy Yard extension has a good chance of being built IF it has broad political support locally, and qualifies for federal funding as a new start.

There are State Representatives in SEPTA's 5 county region who voted NO to the transportation funding bill that is already breathing new life into the system.

In this region, IF is a HUGE word.
I'd love to see a realistic plan that addresses one big issue in each county as a way to build broad political support for expansion. each county would pick a project (west chester restoration or pville, nhsl extension or pottstown, quakertown/newtown, navy yard, etc)

Suburban Station
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Suburban Station » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:36 pm

Clearfield wrote:
Suburban Station wrote:well see if the navy yard gets built
The Navy Yard extension has a good chance of being built IF it has broad political support locally, and qualifies for federal funding as a new start.

There are State Representatives in SEPTA's 5 county region who voted NO to the transportation funding bill that is already breathing new life into the system.

In this region, IF is a HUGE word.
I'd love to see a realistic plan that addresses one big issue in each county as a way to build broad political support for expansion. each county would pick a project (west chester restoration or pville, nhsl extension or pottstown, quakertown/newtown, navy yard, etc)

Trackseventeen
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Re: Once-Proposed Subway/Elevated Lines In Philly

Post by Trackseventeen » Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:13 am

tgolanos wrote:
SubwayTim wrote:
Choo Choo wrote:And don't forget the Somerton El... made it to planning phase but then abandoned.
Where would this be? Above what street(s) would the Somerton El have been built and where would it have started/ended??? Why was it abandoned???
I don't recall ever reading about or hearing about this one. Choo, you sure you're not thinking about the MFL extension (above Bustleton Avenue) to the Boulevard?
The Somerton el, was part of Taylor's 1912 plan... It was an elevated line in the median of Roosevelt Blvd using Rising Sun Ave. south of the Blvd to tie into the Broad Street Subway at Allegheny. Just goes to prove Taylor knew his stuff... 100 years later the city is still debating something that even then was known to be a good area to be served by rapid transit.
900,000 tons of steel, made to roll
The brakes don't work and this grade's so steep
her engines sure to blow...
900,000 tons of steel, out of control
She's more a roller coaster, than the train I used to know.

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