The Race Underground

The Race Underground

Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway

Book - 2014
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In the late nineteenth century, as cities grew more congested, the streets became clogged with plodding horse-drawn carts. When the great Blizzard of 1888 crippled the Northeast, a solution had to be found. Two brothers from a prominent family-- Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York-- each pursued the dream of his city digging the first American subway, and the race was on. The competition played out in an era not unlike our own, one of economic upheaval, life-changing innovations, class warfare, bitter political tensions, and the question of America's place in the world. The story is peopled with the famous, like Boss Tweed, Grover Cleveland, and Thomas Edison, and the not-so-famous, like the countless "sandhogs" who shoveled, hoisted, and blasted into the earth, some losing their lives in the process. Doug Most chronicles the science of the subway, looks at the fears people overcame about traveling underground, and tells a story as exciting as any in the pages of U.S. history. This is a great American saga of two rival cities, their rich, powerful, and sometimes corrupt interests, and an invention that changed the lives of millions. --From publisher description.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : St. Martin's Press, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780312591328
0312591322
9781466842007
Characteristics: viii, 404 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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RickUWS Mar 11, 2014

At least for the first 100 pages this book is disappointing; that's where I gave up. It purports to be a lively history of the competition between Boston and New York to build a subway system, but that seems to be a false comparison calculated to get attention. It is episodic and lacks continuity. The author must have assumed the charming anecdotes and cameos would carry the reader, but for me it just felt like a large-scale cut-and-paste job.

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