[Mayor Kelly Tours State Street Subway Construction]
Date Of Production
This film features Mayor Kelly inspecting the progress on the State Street Subway. Voiceover narration highlights both the engineering hardships of the endeavor, and the anticipated advantages that the project will bring to the city.
The film depicts Mayor Edward J. Kelly touring the progress of construction at the State Street subway station circa 1938. First, Mayor Kelly is shown descending from the station’s street level in an elevator, walking through the tunnel's path. The film shows workers mining in the tunnel, as a narrator describes the difficulties involved in the construction (particularly the "soft, gooey mud" and clay that the workmen must cut through). Then the footage shifts to street scenes: the narrator highlights the advantages of the subway, under an assumption that it could completely replace the "L", since the structures of the elevated lines cast dark shadows over the city and "cripples" traffic. It is hoped that the subways will offer faster and a more comfortable rush-hour commute. A map of Plan 1 from the City of Chicago's Internal System of Plans illustrates the lines' routes (revealing an early iteration where the line ended abruptly at Dearborn and Congress Streets).
Mayor Edward J. Kelly is shown again, visiting one of the model stations for the subway, where he proclaims: "It is a great satisfaction to know that the 40-year dream of a subway is about to be realized." (The State Street Subway opened to the public on October 17, 1943.)
Chicago was one of the first 18 cities in the world to have a subway. The designs of its underground stations were highly regarded, and considered fitting for the home of the New Bauhaus movement. The completion of the State Street Subway occurred at a time when federal funds were redirected to military efforts and federal grants for public transit improvements where diminished.