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How Chicago's 1943 Initial Subway Was Built

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Car lengths in the State Street Subway....Here's more info on Harrison platform: 655 ft. (13 car lengths) Others: Clybourn, Chicago, Grand, 511 ft.; Lake to Congress, 3430 ft.; Roosevelt 556 ft. About five days ago while posting about Harrison station, I was questioned about my use of “moles” and the questioner was correct….”moles” is mostly used referring to “TBM”: tunnel boring machines. Chicago subways were not built using TBMs. I’ve checked and I still don’t know where I found the term “moles” used with Chicago construction. It too cold to go to the four libraries I used. Many sources use the term “shields”…a protection covering tunnel mining. But Chicago uses a shield that actually moved, actually dug out the clay; maybe a writer used the shield movement as justification for using “mole.” "Popular Mechanics" described Chicago’s machine as “cutter machines”, “biscuit cutter”, and told its operation: “biscuit cutter, twenty-five feet three and one-half in diameter”), four CUTTER machines, one for each tube, two in the State St. Subway and the Dearborn-Lake-Milwaukee Subway, exert 200-ton push, 4800 tons of pressure. Miners lop off the clay forced through the six holes of the machine. Worker didn’t to the mining, the cutter machines did. Where the cutters were used the tube has the circular shape. In the State St. subway, the cutters were used from 11th St. north to the river. Navigation the cutter shields through the curves at Dearborn and Lake St. in Subway #2 was difficult. North of the river, traditional mining was used, all the way past North & Clybourn. Workers used knives slapping into the clay and letting a power-operated winch pull the wire through, curling off a long slab of mud for the mockers to heave into cars for transport. Where this type of mining was used the tube has the horseshoe-shape. Except for the river crossing which was made in a dry-dock and floated, the remainder was built by cut-and-cover method including stations and mezzanines, tubes near the entrances, the crossover at Grand and the “Y” connection. The Clybourn crossover was hand mined.

1970437_10152854180112080_141673873_n_2.

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Photo staged using actors, 1943, shows brand new construction, shows tube mined using cutter. not opened yet.

Photo NB at Lake shows tube mined using cutter. Noise panels cover the circular wall shape.
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Photo SB at Chicago shows mining tube with horseshoe-shape.
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Photo SB at Roovevelt show box-shape and flat ceiling where cut-in-cover was used.

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Chicago was last in building subways but it doesn't mean there was no plans and ideas. In 1938, the city forwarded a plan for a four track subway under State St. and two east-west streetcar subways. The Federal rejected but offered their own plan: Program 1....Build a two-track subway under State, Division, and Clybourn. Build a second subway under Dearborn south to Adams and under Lake west of Halsted. The "L" would link Logan Square and Humbolt Park into the Lake St. The city rejected this. The Federals offered Program 2...Build the State subway. Build a second subway, under Dearborn, Lake and out under Milwaukee connecting with the "L" after Division. The city agreed. In 1940, the Feds and the city agreed to extend the Dearborn south to a terminal under a "new" Congress St. Harold I. Ickes, in 1938, was administrator of Public Works Administration and had his name on the housing project that used to be at Cermak and State across from the newly opened Green line station.

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I wonder what Chicago's quality of life would have been like had this plan been fully realized. 

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2 hours ago, CTA5750 said:

I wonder what Chicago's quality of life would have been like had this plan been fully realized. 

The Milwaukee Express train tunnels to O'Hare would have been a real game changer. A southeast subway would have been great too.

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26 minutes ago, artthouwill said:

The Milwaukee Express train tunnels to O'Hare would have been a real game changer. A southeast subway would have been great too.

Ah man, just imagine if we had like a 4 tracked blue line from O'Hare to UIC with stops at Rosemont, Jeff Park, Logan Square, Damen then the dearborn subway, maaaaan

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