Maps of the lost streetcar and subway systems of North America

Originally published at:


The link in the story is busted, but here it is.



I feel like a word other than “lost” is needed. They were destroyed in an actual, went-to-court and got convicted, conspiracy.


OK so I full disclosure I didn’t click through all five pages of his maps, but are there in fact any “lost” subway systems in north America? I’ve lived in several eastern cities that ripped out their extensive streetcar lines, and I can understand those being considered “lost”, but have there been any active, functioning, full-on underground rail systems that were later shut down?

I saw a few maps for subways that were proposed but not realized, or which were realized later with a different layout.

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Hi! I drew all of these. The only full-on subway in the world that has been fully abandoned is the Rochester Subway in upstate New York. Cincinnati built most of one but never finished it; LA has underground pre-war subway tunnels that were abandoned, and large sections of the NYC subway and Chicago L were demolished outright.


Hi! I drew the maps.

The GM streetcar conspiracy is a myth, sadly. By the time of the GM streetcar conspiracy in the 1940s and 1950s, mass transit was thought to be obsolescent nationwide. GM and National City Lines were swooping in on the carcasses of dying systems rather than attacking healthy ones. Think vultures, not eagles.


If they did one for Toronto, that would be a very busy map!

I’d love do faux historic plaques: "On this site, 12 March 2017, the ____ LRT station would have opened, but it was canceled by Rob Ford (and his brother Doug).


I’ve done four, actually. I’m working on the Rob Ford and Transit City plans, but I haven’t found a good enough set of plans from Transit City to be able to nail down the exact station locations.


Plus the Pacific Electric Railway was originally built as a loss-leader to sell the real estate it connected to, so it’s unprofitability isn’t actually surprsing.


Thank you for saying this. As a longtime student of the history and evolution of LA’s transportation system, I sometimes grow weary of playing Whack-a-Mole with the GM conspiracy theory, and people whose entire acquaintance with it comes from “Roger Rabbit.”

(Second only to those people who think "Chinatown " is history. Sorry, folks – great movie, but has only the vaguest resemblance to real history.)

For those who might wonder how such a conspiracy theory arose, I heartily recommend historian Martha Bianco’s article, Kennedy, 60 Minutes, and Roger Rabbit: Understanding Conspiracy Theory Explanations of the Decline of Urban Mass Transit.


Carl Pohlad [spit], most recently known for his ownership of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, was personally responsible for the destruction of the Twin Cities streetcar lines and their replacement by his poorly run Twin City Lines bus company. It was so poorly run that by 1969 10% of his buses were so unsafe they were legally prohibited from operating within the city of Minneapolis — so he operated them in St. Paul instead. A holiday bus strike was so disruptive that by 1970 the state had to step in with the creation of the Metropolitan Transit Commission to purchase the bus lines and restore functioning mass transit to the cities. (Pohlad [spit] had Trumply been holding the sale up trying to eke out a few extra million dollars from the deal.) After taking ownership, the publicly-owned Metro Transit modernized the fleet and has since evolved into a mostly functional transit system, although the underserved ring suburbs are now running a bewilderment of privately operated bus systems.

For a better spin on the rotten mess, the Minnesota Historic Society recently published a great story on it.

Minneapolis long ago paved over the streetcar tracks, the streetcars all but forgotten.


NYC has more than a few abandoned stations. Re lines, I believe there’s a short unused one near City Hall (now a tourist site, I believe), and there’s a long section of elevated tracks in Manhattan now serving as a park.

As a Indianapolis native, you grow up hearing tales of the Interurban system, as well as Indianapolis’ streetcar system, but this is the first time I ever saw them mapped-out like this. The Indy streetcar system was even more complex than I ever imagined. Thanks!


Doomed by the curved platform with too large gaps.


The High Line was a freight line that came down from the west side yards; never a passenger line.

It also used to go all the way to Canal Street, but the Gansevoort-Canal segment was demolished. You can still see where it used to go through certain places.

There are some tunnels not-yet connected to anything under 2nd Avenue. There’s also a stub line pointed out towards New York bay in downtown Brooklyn; the one station on that line became the transit museum and houses historic trains on the track level.

There were also trolley-like services on the Brooklyn, Williamsburg, George Washington (I think, not turning up a ready reference), and Queensboro bridges. Not integrated as routes that ordinary subway trains would take. They all ended up getting ripped out for more car-traffic lanes, but vestiges of the old systems still remain. The “low-line” underground space on Delancey for the W’burg is one, it was the trolley terminal.

When I lived there, it was very weird seeing the obvious remnants of it all over – entrances to tunnels, bolted doors that’d take you down to the stations. The city briefly did tours of some of the stations, but they’re falling apart so badly that they had to stop.

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No love for the Chicago Freight Tunnels?


We had an extensive trolley system in central pennsylvania, but I’ve never found a map of it :frowning: