A Platform for Chicago, circa 1964

In the early 1960s, the Chicago Tribune’s editorial page would routinely provide its “platform” for the city underneath the newspaper’s masthead. The "platform" was a list of infrastructure improvements and political reforms.

This clip from March 29, 1964 lists eight goals for the city:

As you can see, the board totally whiffed on some of these ideas. Can you imagine the Loop without the elevated trains? That was the Tribune’s proposal, while at the same time expanding mass transit lines. I assume that the mass transit expansion would involve the new “L” lines in the middle of the new expressways being built in the city in the ‘60s: the Dan Ryan and the Kennedy (the Congress line had already opened in the median of the Eisenhower Expressway in 1958, the world’s first such public transit rail line to be located in the middle of a multi-lane highway).

The editorial board was also actively pushing for a West Side highway, better known as the “Crosstown Expressway”.  This idea was bounced around throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, supported by Richard J. Daley. It almost came to be in the late 1970s, with almost $2 billion in federal funds earmarked for its construction. But then-Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne and Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson cancelled the project in 1979, with the federal funds instead going to mass transit projects like the extension of the Blue Line to O’Hare Airport and the creation of the Orange Line to Midway Airport.

Speaking of Midway, the board proposed expanding that airport and turning it into a business aviation center:

The Midway expansion eventually happened in the late 1990s, but the business airport idea never materialized.

A domed stadium, replacing Soldier Field, was also proposed:

Of course, this never happened. But it was bandied about as late as the mid ‘ 90s – remember RichardM. Daley’s “Soldier Field House”?

The S-Curve on Lake Shore Drive was also eliminated, although that would take another 20 years after this platform was published. And of course, downtown development has never ceased, usually at the expense of the neighborhoods, unfortunately.

And as for the “elimination of (city) payroll padding” and “one-party rule”? Well, that’s not changing anytime soon.


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