Posts Tagged ‘Debt’

Construction of the New York City Subway System

November 19th, 2022

Origins and the Elevated Railways:

What happened below was the result of what happened above.

Measuring a meager two miles wide by 13 miles long, 23-square-mile Manhattan Island grew into one of the world’s most populace cities. Like a cohesive trunk, it grew four other branches, or boroughs, in 1898, which stretched to Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, and became unified as New York City.

Although its insular status would have logically dictated the opposite, this jigsaw puzzle of land parcels, sandwiched between the East and Hudson rivers, was quickly fed by the Erie Canal and its bustling, East Coast ports.

Lower Manhattan, incubating most of the city’s businesses and industry, grew ever-denser and needed a frequent, low-cost means of access for its workforce, yet the obstacles to its creation were many.

Because electricity as a source of motive power had yet to become a viable option, traditional steam engine technology would forcibly have to be used, yet it was ill-suited toward anything but short, underground tunnel passage and would therefore be relegated to outside, elevated track.

Financial hurdles were likely to be considerable, and few would be willing to inject such a massive capital outlay into a transportation mode that had yet to be tested. Who, in the event, would own such a network and, even if its costs could be covered, how high would its fares have to be to do so?

Any street-level usage by track-plying trains would obviously require significant approvals, permits, and contracts from city, state, and governmental agencies and regulators.