Collection: The plans that never were

The Washington region has seen many bold plans over the years to remake its form. Some, like the 1902 McMillan Plan, shaped what we see today. Many more never got past the idea stage, but they're fascinating for their ambition and vision, for better or worse.

  • A 1912 plan would have built a network of streetcar tunnels around the White House

    Tom at Ghosts of DC keeps finding fascinating old plans for downtown. This one, from 1912, proposed a network of tunnels for the streetcars, and an underground terminal at 15th Street and New York Avenue.  Keep reading…

  • This map shows a very different East Capitol Street

    In the 1940s, there was a proposal to make East Capitol Street into a wide, monumental avenue. This map shows what it would look like, and provides some other glimpses into what DC was like at the time.   Keep reading…

  • An 1886 plan would have built atop Rock Creek

    An 1886 Washington Post article outlines a plan to put Rock Creek in a tunnel from about M Street to just north of R Street, fill in the ravine, and create city blocks between Georgetown and Dupont.Proponents estimated it would create 50 “squares” (generally city blocks) of space, for a cost of about $600,000 to $650,000, or about $15-16 million in today’s dollars.By…  Keep reading…

  • Washington’s unbuilt highways

    This is a map of the Washington that almost was.If mid-century planners, dedicated as they were to driving and the clearance of historic neighborhoods, had their way. It is a map of the highway network proposed for Washington during initial planning of the Eisenhower Interstate System, in 1958.  Keep reading…

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