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Secret Subway: The Fascinating Tale of an…

Secret Subway: The Fascinating Tale of an Amazing Feat of Engineering

by Martin W. Sandler

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It’s the 1860s and New York City’s streets are swarming with immigrants and made deadly by hundreds of horse-drawn carriages leaving the streets with tons of manure. A brilliant engineer, Alfred Beach, tackles the problem by working secretly at night more than twenty feet underground, with dim lighting and in claustrophobic conditions, storing the dirt in a basement, and carting it away in the dark. What happens when his secret plan is discovered?
  KilmerMSLibrary | Apr 30, 2013 |
Pack the traffic of the busiest street of London into one boulevard, and still you will not have an idea of the crush in Broadway... it is bedlam on wheels. New York City in the 1800's was a traffic nightmare. Horses, wagons, pedestrians all jammed together in one of the busiest cities on the planet, and the lack of public transportation made it dangerous as well as unsanitary (tons of unshoveled horse manure everywhere). Alfred Beach, owner of the Scientific American magazine and its patent agency, decided to do something about it. In designing the first workable subway system for New York, he not only had to design and engineer the subway, but also invent new machines to create the underground tunnels needed for it. He also had to figure out how to get around the corrupt politicians of the time, led by none other than Boss Tweed himself. This is an incredible story of solving problems through science and creativity -- and secretly to boot! The first subway line was built without anyone knowing other than the workers who were building it... and it was quite a surprise for the city. The Panic of 1873 ruined the financial markets and left Beach no money to keep building his subway, but as the nation recovered from the financial disaster, so did New York. However, it wasn't until the Blizzard of 1888, in which 400 people died trying to get home from work, that the city created plans for what would become the New York City Subway system. Excellent writing! 6th grade and up. ( )
  KarenBall | Sep 23, 2011 |
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In 1869, Alfred Beach wanted to build America's first air-powered railway below New York City, but Boss Tweed, powerful politician and notorious crook, opposed. Working under night cover, Beach and his crew carved a three-hundred-foot tunnel beneath a department store. Before long, the project was discovered and the public raved about its potential. But no further tunnels were ever built. What happened to Beach's railway, and where is it now?… (more)

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