1930s chicago: when transit meant freedom, and power

The magazine Imprint has posted a beautiful collection of early 20th century graphics from the Chicago Transit Authority, emphasizing how transit can liberate you to access the riches of your city (and even a bit of countryside).  

I like this one, because the "above the congestion" meme is still a powerful one, part of the advocacy for monorails, gondolas, and so on …

5 Responses to 1930s chicago: when transit meant freedom, and power

  1. Peter Laws December 16, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    “[W]hen transit meant freedom and power”? Really?
    I see a desperate company trying to stem the flow of passengers to the competition (private automobile) using state of the art advertising (which I, too, enjoy and appreciate!).
    Great credit to Insull for trying to make it work rather than just shutting it down, but if people of the time truly associated freedom and power with riding the L, the CRT Co wouldn’t have been nationalized in 1947.

  2. Jim Moore December 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    It’s paradoxical that the early 20th century (pre-WW2) railways and tramways began the suburban sprawl and flight from the probably polluted city centres – the same movement that went into overdrive when cars became affordable to the “masses” after WW2 – and now there are demands for new and reinstatement of these light railways to enable people in the suburbs to reach the city centre quickly and to somehow re-generate the ribbon developments along the inner arterial roads between the city and the suburbs.

  3. Miles Bader December 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    You’re projecting, Peter.
    I told my mom about that page, and she sent me email saying she absolutely loved it, because she actually remembers that era (well slightly later, ’40s), and seeing the adverts vividly brought back wonderful memories of riding the L (and streetcars, especially).
    Most people were rather poor back then, and didn’t own cars. So yeah, transit meant freedom and power…

  4. Peter Laws December 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    I don’t think so, Miles Bader. CRT Co ridership, revenue, and profit figures from the first half of the century would tell the story (numbers I don’t have) regardless of what we say here. 🙂
    As far as “cars being affordable for the masses”, that started in 1908, not 1948. Street railway passenger miles peaked in 1920 or so and it was all downhill from there, save the bump from WW2 rationing. Dunno about rapid transit (suspect the numbers were better).

  5. chinatown bus schedule January 3, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    Wow! This is simply amazing!I am admired to see this wonderful and beautiful collection of early 20th century graphics from the Chicago Transit Authority.