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Planes Trains and Automobiles

The First Subway: Alfred Ely Beach’s Marvelous Pneumatic Transit

Beach’s pneumatic subway — the first in the United States — opened 150 years ago today. To celebrate this anniversary, we are re-representing our 2016 show on the history of Alfred Ely Beach and his shortlived (but truly marvelous) invention. PODCAST The unbelievable story of Alfred Ely Beach’s Pneumatic Transit, a curious solution from 1870 […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts The Jazz Age

The Holland Tunnel: How a Jazz Age engineering marvel forever changed New York and New Jersey

EPISODE 307 The Holland Tunnel, connecting Manhattan with Jersey City beneath the Hudson River, is more important to daily life in New York City than people may at first think. Before the creation of the Holland Tunnel, commuters and travelers had painfully few options if they wanted to get to and from Manhattan. And for […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

Uncovering Hudson Yards: The hidden history beneath New York’s newest destination

PODCAST All the history that came before the development of Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s skyline-altering new project. Hudson Yards is America’s largest private real estate development, a gleaming collection of office towers and apartments overlooking a self-contained plaza with a shopping mall and a selfie-friendly, architectural curio known as The Vessel. By design, Hudson Yards feels international, […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

Newark vs. LaGuardia: A story of airports and the first flying machines over New York City skies

PODCAST Newark Liberty International Airport or LaGuardia Airport? Which do you prefer? (Or is the answer — none of the above. Give me JFK!) In this episode, we present the origin stories of New York City’s airports and airfields. The skies over New York have been graced with aircraft for almost 110 years. In fact the […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

The Destruction of Penn Station — “One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat.”

PODCAST Why did they knock down old Pennsylvania Station? The original Penn Station, constructed in 1910 and designed by New York’s greatest Gilded Age architectural firm, was more than just a building. Since its destruction in the 1960s, the station has become something mythic, a sacrificial lamb to the cause of historic preservation. Amplifying its loss […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

Opening Day of the New York City Subway: Stand Clear of the (Very First) Closing Doors Please!

PODCAST What was it like to experience that epic symbol of New York City – the world famous New York City subway system – for the first time? In this episode, we imagine what opening day was like for the first New York straphangers. We begin by recounting the subway system’s construction and registering the excitement of New […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

The Bowery under the Third Avenue Elevated: Capturing the soot and shadow of Old New York

It’s a vivid image (for some bleak, other romantic) that most New Yorkers cannot imagine. But a few people still living today remember it quite well — the Bowery underneath an elevated train line. The Third Avenue Elevated was constructed in 1878, connecting South Ferry with Harlem via a sturdy, darkening railroad track, hoisted over […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

Welcome to the ‘subway art museum’: The early battle against ‘disfiguring’ advertisements in the subway

Above: Protect this station from the rueful blight of subway advertisements! (Pic NYPL) There once was a time, believe it or not, when the city was so concerned for the aesthetic beauty of the subway that an early controversy broke regarding the scandalous inclusion of advertisements in subway stations. The stations designed for those very […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

The story of how Idlewild Airport was renamed for John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was memorialized in dozens of ways following his assassination on November 22, 1963. None of these are more vital to the daily lives of New Yorkers than John F. Kennedy International Airport — or Kennedy Airport or simply JFK — the busiest airport in the Northeast. […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

The story of how Idlewild Airport was renamed for John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was memorialized in dozens of ways following his assassination on November 22, 1963. None of these are more vital to the daily lives of New Yorkers than John F. Kennedy International Airport — or Kennedy Airport or simply JFK — the busiest airport in the Northeast. […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

The Hindenburg Over New York: The Airship Age Comes To An Abrupt End

PODCAST The era of the Zeppelin, how it shaped the New York skyline and the disastrous crash of the Hindenburg on an airfield in New Jersey. On the afternoon of May 6, 1937, New Yorkers looked overhead at an astonishing sight — the arrival of the Hindenburg, the largest airship in the world, drifting calmly across […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

Deconstruction Of The Third Avenue El: A new exhibit at the Transit Museum

Who knew the dismantling of something so filthy and monstrous could be so beautiful? Sid Kaplan is a master print-maker and photography teacher who the New York Times recently called “the darkroom equivalent of the session man, the go-to guy famous musicians revere and want to work with.” Kaplan has been fascinated with photography since his […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

Those crazy kids! This Friday learn all about the Great Subway Race of 1967

Here’s an event for you this Friday that’s a little bit The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and an iota of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World — with a New York City touch, of course. It’s The Great Subway Race of 1967! Fifty years ago M.I.T. computer whiz kid Peter Samson programmed a mainframe computer about the […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

A Brief History of Subway Cinema

Decades in the making, the Second Avenue Subway finally opened to the public this week, its glimmering new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets heralded with the pomp and circumstance of a movie premiere. Of course, the subway doesn’t immediately come to mind as a photogenic movie star, but in fact, the various tunnels and […]

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

A city of bridges: One century ago, Scientific American predicted a future of elevated sidewalks

Imagine a city where the High Line isn’t just a novel park, but the primary form of urban conveyance. In 1913, with the proliferation of the automobile, it seemed humans were being crowded out at ground level.  People were beginning to think of themselves as removed from the street.  Daredevils were experimenting with flight, and […]