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Anecdotes from the Archive

Anecdotes from the Archive


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Heavy traffic calls for “super-streets”

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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If you’ve ever commuted through New York City during rush hour, you’ve probably experienced stress-inducing traffic, over-stuffed subway cars, or delays that don’t care if you’ve given yourself an extra half hour. In 1924 the New York metropolitan area’s population was already large enough to get the Transit Commission thinking of ways to accommodate future traffic needs.

The September 1924 issue of Scientific American reported that the New York City Transit Commission and its Consulting Engineer, Daniel L. Turner, had devised a plan to deal with the estimated increase in future suburban traffic. The plan included the creation of 120-foot-wide “super-streets” and subway lines that would serve an area extending 40 miles outside of Manhattan.

Proposed Super Street

 The new system was to consist of three lines:

“The first will run from Jamaica to the Battery; up the west side of Manhattan to a new super-street built between Ninth and Tenth Avenues to 59th Street; and then below the East River to Long Island. The second, a Westchester-New Jersey line, will extend from 149th Street, in the Bronx, under a new super-street between Third and Second Avenues to 58th Street; thence with two branches, one down the Bowery and under the Hudson Rive to Johnston Avenue, New Jersey, to return to Manhattan at 59th Street; the other proceeding across 58th Street to a new super-street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and thence south as shown on the map. The third will be a New Jersey line, routing from the West Side and Sip Avenues, Jersey City, south under the hill and Johnston Avenue; under the Hudson to the Bowery, and north by the Westchester and New Jersey line to 57th Street, thence west under the Hudson to Weehawken and thence south as shown.”

Super Street Map

I wonder what Daniel L. Turner would think about the Metropolitan Transit Authority if he were alive to see its various trains, buses, and subways in action…and its sometimes disgruntled riders.



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  1. 1. wmshipman 11:17 am 03/4/2011

    Funny to see superstreets discussed in this way. Especially since they may be the streets of the future. Again. Here’s a brief write-up (see link below) of some recent research showing that so-called superstreets cut travel times at busy intersections by 20 percent, and cut collision-related injures by over 60 percent.
    http://web.ncsu.edu/abstract/science/wms-superstreets/

    Link to this
  2. 2. fire1fl 7:32 pm 03/8/2011

    It is amazing to hear people still talking about streets as a means of moving people. They are obsolete. They have been replaced by the information highway. The only need for streets is to get to or from (or have delivered) food and drink (and the socialization that goes with them).

    Link to this

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