In 1904, New York’s modern subway system was officially opened – changing the city forever. But what most people don’t know is that it was not the first subway. Because of terrible congestion on Broadway, Alfred Ely Beach (the young owner of the fledgling magazine Scientific American) conceived of an idea – to build an underground railway, which used a giant fan to propel and suck a rail-car back and forth through a tunnel. Because of the corruption of the commissioner of public works, William Tweed, Beach had to get consent to build his tunnel by pretending it was to be a mail delivery system. Tweed (whose income was derived largely from city transportation) did not veto the request.
Beach and a small group of men began digging a tunnel under Broadway in the dark of night. The entire enterprise was kept secret, as dirt was hidden in the basement of a building Beach bought for that purpose. The work went well, but just before they could complete their first line the press got wind and it became public. Beach’s team worked extra hard to finish the subway, and in grand style they opened to the public on March 1, 1870. He charged twenty-five cents per passenger to travel from Warren Street to Murray Street. It was a huge success – carrying over 400,000 passengers in its first year of operation.
Unfortunately Tweed was outraged and vetoed future extensions to the subway. Tweed was eventually imprisoned for his corruption, and permission was given for Beach to resume work extending the subway, but unfortunately his private investors were fast disappearing, due to the beginnings of an economic crisis. The subway was not completed and remained hidden under the city completely sealed up (complete with the luxury car and machinery) until it was subsumed into the present City Hall Station.
They say we are 98% water.
We're that close to drowning!
A glass of water, please.
I like to live on the edge.
Live Long and Prosper...