Planning: The Decision to Build, 1946-1965

Next: The Adopted Regional System, 1966-1968

Greiner-DeLeuw streetcar plan, 1946 Mass Transportation Survey plan, 1959 National Capital Transportation Agency plan, 1962 NCTA sketch map, c. 1963 NCTA plan, 1965
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From the early 20th century through the 1940s, Washingtonians dreamed of a subway comparable to Boston’s or Philadelphia’s. The first serious proposal for a rapid transit system, in 1959, conceived of rail transit as a complement to a massive system of highways. But following the election of 1960, President Kennedy gave government positions to highway critics who proposed using rail as a substitute for new freeways. They considered many alternatives, including a route through Georgetown. After initial defeat in 1963, in 1965 Kennedy’s appointees persuaded Congress to approve a modest system that did not threaten highways at all.