D.C. Must Have Subway System Eventually

November 25th, 1941 - Washington Post
November 25th, 1941 – Washington Post

Doing a little more research on the subway debate in Washington, here is another interesting article we dug up in the Washington Post from November 25th, 1941 (t-minus 12 days to Pearl Harbor). The most fascinating part is thinking about the proposed route.

Washington eventually must establish some sort of subway system to meet its ever-growing traffic problem, Frederic A. Delano, chairman of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, yesterday told the Board [sic] of trade traffic committee.

At a luncheon meeting of the group in O’Donnell’s Restaurant, Delano suggested an underground transportation line connecting Georgetown with the eastern end of the city.

He said the system necessarily would have to be built near the surface to avoid water seepage at the lower levels. He proposed to start the subway near Key Bridge, running it to Massachusetts Avenue at a point near Union Station and eastward to the edge of the District.

Delano told the traffic committee members that he found Washington a “very difficult” place in which to drive a car and said he felt the numerous rules should be simplified “so they would be understandable to strangers.” As an example of confusing markers, Delano cited large “do not enter” signs on certain streets.

“An out-of-town driver,” he said, “comes to a sudden halt when he sees the sign, and then on closer examination reads in smaller type ‘Between 4 and 6:30 p. m.'”

He also had a few bitter remarks anent motorists “who weave all over the streets” and pointed particularly to buses which pass one another during rush hours.

At the conclusion of his talk, Delano left the suggestion with city officials that they study a one-way street system similar to the plan in New York City.

Delano was introduced by Chairman P. Y. K. Howatt. Other guests at the luncheon included Engineer Commissioner Charles W. Kutz, John Nolan, jr., director of planning for the Park Commission; Thomas Settle, executive secretary; and Capt. H. C. Whitehurst, director of highways.

A subway from Key Bridge to Union Station? Wow, things would be really different.

… and D.C. is still a crappy town to drive in. It’s horrible.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • C.Wood

    You say “D.C. is still a crappy town to drive in. It’s horrible.” Then give me the name of a major city in the U.S. that isn’t a “crappy town to drive in”.