|Lake Shore Drive, 2011|
The sheer number of people struggling to move through Chicago today, either locally or as a layover to an international location, is astounding. In 2010, O'Hare was the third busiest airport in the world, hosting over 66 million passengers. The Tollway is expected to generate about $21 million dollars in revenue. (I can't find anything that gives a time frame for that figure, but almost all of that money will be pumped into the city's economy.) Even now, it is easy to see that Chicago is a hub for transportation, both in the U.S. and internationally.
What I find interesting is the fact that railroads are completely absent from the reporting on this transportation holdup. As Cronon illustrates in the chapter "Rails and Water," the railroad system converged on Chicago as the juncture between the East and the West. Clearly, Chicago still operates in this capacity, but the form of transportation has evolved. The question for me remains whether or not flying and driving are more efficient than traveling by train. Cronon addresses the weather dependent road-conditions of the 1830s and 40s, but it seems to me as though not much has changed in that regard.