Travel by conveyor belt? Why not! Futuristic ideas from the 1900s for moving sidewalk-style city transportation

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Travel by conveyor belt Why not! Futuristic ideas from the 1900s for moving sidewalk-style city transportation

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

Underground moving sidewalks in New York (1903)

An interesting phase of New York’s transportation problem is the proposal to construct underground moving sidewalks or platforms.

The first one planned, of which the details are shown in the drawing, to go from Williamsburg to Bowling Green, and is to connect on the way with the surface and elevated cars.

The fare will be one cent, and the speed will be from five to nine miles an hour. (Illustration by Sydney Adamson, 1903)

Underground moving sidewalks In New York 1903

City transportation idea for NYC: Rapid transit by belt conveyor (1910)

The method of transportation by moving platform shown can carry, according to the Public Service Commission, 73,500 people per hour at 12 miles per hour. Up to distances of 4 miles, this is as fast as travel by the present combined express and local service.

The express trains can carry 36,000, and the local trains 22,500 per hour. The successive platforms move at 3, 6, 9, and 12 miles per hour. – A vision of the future, as published in Scientific American in 1910 / Illustrator: Beverly Towles / Courtesy the NY Public Library

Rapid transit by belt conveyor

Moving sidewalk for New York (1910)

The property owners on 34th Street recently held a meeting, and by a decided majority, voted in favor of constructing a moving sidewalk in that cross-town thoroughfare.

The proposed line will extend entirely across the city, and will be about twenty feet below street level. (The American Contractor – April 1910)

Traveling walk to replace subway (1923)

The world-famous subway shuttle across Forty-Second Street in New York City may be replaced with a moving sidewalk built in three sections, running at three, six and nine miles an hour.

A company has been organized to build the new magnetically-propelled carriage, and complete working models have been constructed.

Traveling walk to replace subway - 1923

Above is a section of the model and its method of operation. Benches are installed on the fastest-moving platform.

Shown is a section of the complete arrangement, with the three moving platforms. The slots marking the connection point between the sections out of which the device is made can be easily seen. Each section is approximately six feet in length. The floors are made of wood, the frames of fabricated steel. – Science and Invention magazine, 1923


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