Categories
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 […]

Categories
Amusements and Thrills

Subway Tavern: ‘greasy’ church-operated bar alternative

  LOCATION: Subway Tavern Bleecker and Mulberry, Manhattan In operation 1904-05 The early planners of the New York City subway negotiated that very first route through some of the city’s mostly heavily populated areas, those obviously in need of rapid transit. The locations of the first underground stations were based on the amount of available […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf Queens History

The International Express: The Personality of the 7 Train

The New York subway system has been a frightening place recently — derailments, stalled trains underground, agonizing delays. Most of these interruptions are experienced in a unique way, a group of strangers coping with a  situation outside their control. After a few minutes of waiting, people get impatient, pace the train, grumble silently, turn up […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
American History

Election Night 1916: With a world war looming, America goes to the polls

One hundred years ago today, Americans went to the polls to vote for the President of the United States — between the Democrat and incumbent President Woodrow Wilson and the Republican Charles Evans Hughes. The election was held on November 7, 1916, and it’s interesting to peruse the details of the day itself and the headlines from the […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles

100 years ago today: Seventh Avenue collapsed under rush hour traffic

One hundred years ago today, — a horrifying disaster on Seventh Avenue endangered the lives of New Yorkers on their way to work. Excavations for the new Seventh Avenue subway line (the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue line, aka the 1-2-3 trains) were proceeding well below an active thoroughfare.  On the morning of September 22, 1915, two detonations […]

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles

The Horror Underground: New York’s first subway disaster — during rush hour, one hundred years ago today

On January 6, 1915, a seemingly minor incident under the streets of Midtown caused a terrible panic, “the worst disaster in the history of the New York subway” up to that date, injuring hundreds of commuters and killing one.  That morning, two electrical cables feeding into manholes at Broadway and 52nd Street suddenly shorted out, […]

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles

The New York City subway system opened 110 years ago today; An interview with The Race Underground author Doug Most

Crowds at the now-defunct City Hall Station of the brand new New York subway system. (NYPL) One hundred and ten years ago today, the first train of the New York City subway system began its first trip underneath the city, filled with eager and excited passengers.  Thousands lined up to take this revolutionary new ride, […]

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles

The Dual Contracts: The New York City subway system gets a serious upgrade 100 years ago today

A subway map from 1924, illustrating the system created as a result of the Dual Contracts agreement. After years of negotiations, false starts and lengthy arguments played out in the press, a group of greatly relieved businessmen entered the large hearing room of the New York Tribune Building (at Nassau and Spruce, where Pace University […]

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles

J. P. Morgan Jr. rides the subway and is accosted by a hat

Any of you who ride the 4-5-6 train in rush hour will especially relate to this story.  It takes place, in fact, on that very line, one hundred years ago. Will B. Johnstone, an artist at the New York Evening World, noticed an interesting sight on his subway ride that morning, February 1, 1913, the […]

Nasty Nor’easter: Horses, balloons suffer in strange storms

The illustration above overemphasizes the appeal of the windblown look. (Courtesy NYPL)  We really, really don’t need a Nor’easter right now. No, really. But unfortunately it is that time of year, when the northeast United States and eastern Canada are whacked with gale force winds and bitter cold, a wet and chilling blast that can […]

New York transit system stymied by women’s skirt styles

A lady in a relatively normal skirt boards a Broadway streetcar in July 1913. Now imagine trying this in a hobble skirt! (Courtesy Library of Congress) A serious cry (mostly from men) rang out through the city one hundred years ago about the ever-expanding transit system and the scandalous style of women’s skirts. Were frocks […]

‘Staten Island Has Many Charms Worthy Of Consideration’: Ten ways to sell a borough (and a proposed subway) in 1912

The sky’s the limit: Staten Island from the vantage of a hot air balloon, August 1906. (Courtesy LOC)“God might have made a more beautiful place than Staten Island, but He never did.” — George William Curtis If you’ve ever been slightly bemused by the newspaper profiles of trendy neighborhoods, presented as though the reporters were […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

2012! Will this be the year New York gets moving sidewalks?

Have you ever walked down a New York sidewalk and thought, “I’m wasting so much energy creating my own forward motion. Why can’t the sidewalk do some of the work?” In one vision of the future, city sidewalks operated as a conveyor belt, whisking people to their destination in a steady stream of moving seats. […]