The inspiration for this web site is the July, 1913 map of future rapid transit lines of Philadelphia. The map was prepared by A. Merritt Taylor, Philadelphia’s Transit Commissioner. The map showed the completed Market Street Subway/Elevated and the city’s planned Frankford Elevated, Broad Street Subway, Darby Elevated and Center City Delivery Loop. What the map also shows, is Taylor’s plans for future elevated and subway lines. A future that included a second delivery loop into Center City Philadelphia, extensions to Chestnut Hill, up the Northeast Boulevard and into Southwest Philadelphia. Taylor’s plans would have also reached Roxborough, Overbrook and the far Northeast.
Taylor believed that building the full system immediately would spur development across Philadelphia. He cited the success of the Market Street Elevated in West Philadelphia for enticing development and increasing land value as reason for building the remaining lines before demand was certain.
In the end, not even all of all of Taylor’s approved plans were implemented as he was replaced after a new mayor was elected. What might be most impressive about Taylor’s plans is how well they would have served the city, even a hundred years later. Mass transit along Roosevelt Boulevard still gets proposed by planning organizations and SEPTA. The idea of converting the Chestnut Hill West regional rail line to mass transit connecting to the Broad Street subway is still floated from time to time.
Political willpower and World War I submarined Taylor’s plans, but it is fun to imagine what Philadelphia would be like today if his plans were implemented.
1913 Future Transit Map of Philadelphia
In the spirit of New York MTA map designer Massimo Vignelli.