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Below the sewers and subways of Chicago, are over 60-miles of forgotten 19th and 20th century train tunnels. This mysterious labyrinth, once connecting the majority of the city’s most prominent buildings. Has sat in abandonment and disarray for the better part of a century – today, we will uncover the forgotten story of the Chicago Tunnels. Around the turn of the century, the City of Chicago was one of the most congested urban spaces in the United States of America. Chaos, might even be the most proper word to describe it. Between the horse drawn carts, were street cars gridlocked by the pedestrians moving in every direction. And although the city attempted to alleviate these issues in 1892, with the introduction of elevated rapid transport, known locally as “the L” the foundation of the new track structure obstructed valuable curb areas otherwise useful for loading. On some streets, the train commuters indeed saved time – but cargo loading guaranteed lane blockage – reeking havok on the trolly cars making their way through out the loop. And as if that was not already enough to cause high blood pressure, factors were grossly compounded by another component known as coal. You see, Coal was a primary power source for Chicagoan’s, and demand was abundant. Looking back, It’s Almost ironic to consider that the city literally emerged from ash to become covered in ash. The delivery of coal was a massive element of the cargo logistics impeding the cities quality of life. Not only jamming up already overcrowded streets, but dirtying them with the removal of its byproduct – ash. Even the Chicago Tribune gave its warning in 1874, that the huge increase in factories, hotels, and new skyscrapers with their steam-powered elevators, was a serious problem. On journilist argued “So dense is this volume of smoke that, unless there is a brisk, stirring breeze, the whole of it settles down in the central part of the city and leaves its dirty imprint,”. From todays prespetive, this type of commentary presents strong contrast to the tourist praised city of glorious architecture that we know today. Another example comes from, author Rud-yard Kip-ling who was quoted on Feb. 8, 1891 in simply saying that “Chicago’s air is dirt”. News paper editors crusaded tirelessly against the “smoke horror.” Proclaiming that “The city will shortly be blackened in appearance, new as it is, and grow unhealthier”. And although there was not a great solution for the so called “air of dirt” – containment of the ash and resulting congestion of the street could be addressed by moving it all 40 feet underground. I’m your host Ryan Socash and your watching – IT’S HISTORY. The History of The Chicago Tunnels This story’s orgins began Under the watchful eye of chief engineer George W. Jackson, As the Illinois Telephone and Telegraph company built the first 26 miles of tunnel to hold telegraph and telephone cables. In 1899, a narrow-gauge railway was laid with in the tunnels with excavation,
However, the project stalled after the Company ran out of money. And this is when things became interesting. In 1905, the Illinois Tunnel Company took over construction, expanding the network to 60 miles and On July 7, 1905, an 11-car train was dispatched from the Erie freight house – marking the starting a new era.
» SOURCES & QUOTATION
Illegal trespassing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Konopka
Video from CBS2Chicago of the Great Chicago Loop Flood started on 4/13/1992. https://youtu.be/coeeBc3bfMA
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