Six-Story Speed highways of Tomorrow (Mar, 1930)

Six-Story Speed highways of Tomorrow

Here is an artist’s conception of the amazing multiple highway plan of Dr. John A. Harriss, former health commissioner of New York City. The plan calls for six traffic levels. Each level is for designated traffic. There is an express traffic level, two one-way levels for bus traffic and other plans to expedite traffic. This proposal of Dr. Harriss is gaining in favor as one of the most feasible of many schemes advanced to adequately handle the constantly increasing motor and pedestrian traffic.

  1. Chris Radcliff says: January 20, 201111:18 am

    Oof. I’m glad this plan was never implemented. The lowest pedestrian level (where the doors to all those buildings are) would be gloomy, loud, and choked with fumes. The topmost pedestrian level (at least as depicted) is completely useless, unless there’s some incentive to walk up five stories just to come all the way back down when you reach your destination.

  2. Myles says: January 20, 201111:49 am

    Love this goofy one, they even drew it with crayons.

    Couple of bad ideas:
    1. Chris got the darkness and gloom one.
    2. Increasing the road building budget by more than 6X might be troublesome, also modifying the buildings.
    3. Do you really need 5 or so lanes of traffic dedicated to buses going just one way?
    4. What do you put in the middle of the high speed auto traffic, a gas station. Parking should be no problem. 🙂

  3. Kosher Ham says: January 20, 201112:26 pm

    Imagine setting up this in California with the earthquake problems.

  4. M.S.W. says: January 20, 20111:37 pm

    One Positive outcome from this concept would be that the lower levels shouldn’t have to worry much about snow removal. But just imagine one of those high speedsters hitting a patch of ice and zipping off into the side of the building at 6 stories up…

  5. Jari says: January 20, 20111:58 pm

    This would have make movie car chases much, much more entertaining.

  6. LightningRose says: January 20, 20111:59 pm

    To a lesser degree, Chicago did this decades ago.…

  7. Seamus Dubh says: January 20, 20113:28 pm

    Also remember those collapsed three level highways in California long time back.
    Ya that was due to earth quakes, but imagine the catastrophe if these collapsed.
    Let alone the issue of getting snow off the top deck.

  8. Repack Rider says: January 20, 20119:59 pm

    I give up. How do you get the vehicle from one level to another?

  9. Firebrand38 says: January 20, 201110:14 pm

    RR: Well just before the gas station is a ramp to the next lower level but I see a lot of people “missing their ramp” as well as “missing their turn”.

    I see your point as well, entering at the top level as indicated, your ramp has to cut through the two one way bus levels without allowing exit.

  10. Yaos says: January 21, 201111:59 am

    There’s a problem not a single one of these ever cover, the bottleneck created at off-ramps. They just say “there are ramps” and that apparently solves the problem.

  11. Charlie says: January 22, 20112:29 am

    Of course you wouldn’t need this at all if there were enough bus riders to warrant two dedicated lanes, let alone two levels.

  12. John Savard says: January 22, 201110:35 am

    What is being done in Chicago shows what is wrong with the specifics of the scheme as proposed in the article.

    The topmost level needs to be the one for pedestrians and local traffic, so buildings need to have their main entrances coinciding with that level. That would avoid the problem of pedestrians being on a dark level choked with exhaust.

    The four lowest levels should be one-way levels for cars and trucks. But outside of intersections, there would only be two of those levels present. Thus, two one-way levels for East-West traffic, and two one-way levels for North-South traffic.

    And so the second level from the top would be the intermediate-traffic level which would be connected to the four lowest levels by ramps, to allow vehicles to make turns, and to the highest level by ramps to allow traffic entering the downtown area from the outside on the four lowest levels to stop in the city.

  13. John Savard says: January 22, 201110:52 am

    Further thought allows me to see how this could be made to work.

    For the ramps to work, the intermediate traffic level needs to be in the middle of the four one-way levels.

    To avoid redesigning all the buildings, and allow pedestrians to use the ground level, don’t run these multi-story streets over the existing streets: run them over the back alleys. Of course, if there even are back alleys downtown, they would only run one way. But one could instead view things this way: only use every second street, and every second avenue, for these multi-story roads. Those streets and avenues would be treated as back alleys on ground level.

    On the one-way levels, still make roads going in both orientations; the roadway surface not used for travel would be used for parking.

    The intermediate level would be used by cars; the top level, like the ground level, would be used by pedestrians and transit as well as other local traffic.

  14. Andrew L. Ayers says: January 22, 20119:26 pm

    I’m still wondering about the “traffic signal lights” that look like a large building (larger than the gas station!) suspended by cables (or something) over lanes of “high speed traffic”…what was that artist smoking?

  15. M.S.W. says: January 24, 20117:10 am

    Well Andrew since the last Opium den was raided in NYC on June 28, 1957 it’s quite possible the artist had access to acute mind altering inhalant. 😉

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