Manhattan, 1870. As overcrowded horse carts and weary pedestrians push through the clogged city streets, a man named Beach secretly works by candlelight 2112 feet beneath Devlins clothing store on Broadway, carving out New Yorks very first subway tunnel.
In the years following the Civil War, New York City experienced unprecedented growth. Commerce boomed as immigrants and tourists poured onto the tiny island in huge numbers. But at a time when commuting distance was measured by the strength of ones legs and the soles of ones shoes, the city was unable to expand alongside its population. All of that would change with a few miles of track and a nickel fare.
In Subways, her highly anticipated follow-up to The Automat, Lorraine Diehl sets off on another sentimental journey, recounting the true story of a city transformed by underground passageways. Through archival photographs, interviews with New Yorkers who remember when, and an assortment of rare memorabilia, Diehl introduces us to the entertaining characters who conceived, built, and rode the citys subways, then travels to the familiar destinations shaped by their tracks.
From the last days of the horsecars to the remarkable excavation and construction of the tunnels, from an age of elegant wood-and-brass cars to the streamlined stainless-steel rolling stock of the 1940s, from the once-remote reaches of the boroughs to the bustling metropolis of today, to tell the story of the Subways is to tell the story of New York City.