Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion That Saved New York

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9780814719541: Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion That Saved New York

In 1910, New York City was bursting at the seams as more and more people crowded into a limited supply of housing in the tenement districts of Manhattan and the older areas of Brooklyn. With no outlet for its exploding population, and the burgeoning social problems created by the overwhelming congestion, New York faced a serious crisis which city and state leaders addressed with dramatic measures. In March 1913, public officials and officers of the two existing rapid transit networks shook hands to seal a deal for a greatly expanded subway system which would more than double the size of the two existing transit networks.

At the time the largest and most expensive single municipal project ever attempted, the Dual System of Rapid Transit set the pattern of growth in New York City for decades to come, helped provide millions of families a better quality of life, and, in the words of Manhattan borough president George McAneny (1910-1913), "proved the city's physical salvation." It stands as that rare success story, an enormously complicated project undertaken against great odds which proved successful beyond all measure.

Published in conjunction with the History of the City of New York Project.

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About the Author:

Peter Derrick is Archivist for the Bronx County Historical Society.

From Publishers Weekly:

In 1913, more than two-thirds of New York City's residents lived in tenements and the Lower East Side had the highest population density in the world, housing approximately 600,000 people in less then two square miles. Contagious diseases such as TB were rampant, and the infant mortality rate in the Italian community had grown to 71%. In response to these dangerous conditions, city officials decided to double the mileage of New York's subway lines (which first opened in 1904) and triple their capacity, to encourage people to move uptown and into the outer boroughs. Derrick, the archivist for the Bronx County Historical Society, has produced a rousing history of the myriad struggles to build these lifesaving additions to the city's rapid transit system. Charting the fights between the city and privately owned transit companies (the two were sharing the cost of the subway system's expansion), he shows how the popular Hearst press and other media attacked the private companies for greed, while the companies themselves discovered that the new subway lines would not be as immediately profitable as they had planned. Derrick carefully explicates the impact of these rapid transit extensions on the city's economy, housing, jobs, neighborhood development and human interactions. Writing in a clear, compelling style, he constructs his history within the framework of several disciplines. Though the level of detail may overwhelm general readers, those already knowledgeable about New York political and social history will welcome this excellent addition to the literature of the city's planning, development and economics. (Apr.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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