URBAN RAILS, 1919
About this image: With major cities burgeoning as a result of the economic boom that followed the Civil War, metropolitan areas began to address the consequences of population growth and traffic congestion. Elevated trains promised to solve some of the urban dilemmas by providing a mass transit system that could efficiently move people within the business districts and to and from the outlying residential pockets that seemed to spring up overnight. The idea of an elevated rail system would not greatly impact existing structures as the trains would travel between, in back of and around buildings. New York built the first elevated train in 1868, with Chicago following suit in 1892. In 1919, when this photograph was taken, the intersection at Lake and Wells Streets in Chicago was the world’s busiest railroad intersection, with an average of three trains passing through every minute.