Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World

Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World

Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World

Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World


Since the first subway opened in 1904, the New York Subway system and its trains have provided millions of New Yorkers with cheap, fast, and remarkably reliable transportation. The New York subway system lacks the electronic complexity of such modern operations as the Washington, D.C. Metro or San Francisco's BART, and New Yorkers have few qualms in admitting that theirs is not the world's most beautiful subway. But as it is in no other city on earth, the subway of New York is intimatelywoven into the fabric and identity of the city itself. Transportation expert Brian Cudahy recounts the history of the New York subway systems in a book that is full of detail, historical anecdote, and the wonders of twentieth - century technology. Tracing the system from it first short IRT look to the extensive network of today, with information about such fascinating sidelights as the city's traim systems and the PATH trains linking New York and New Jersey, he has produced a complete, thoroughly researched and annotated, and fully illustrated history that will delight subway buffs, students of urban affairs, and all those who love the city of New York.


Under the Sidewalks of New York first appeared in 1979, the 75th anniversary of the opening of the city’s original subway. It was published by Stephen Greene Press of Brattleboro, Vermont. a substantially revised edition was brought out in 1988, by which time Stephen Greene Press had become part of Viking Penguin. What follows is a further revision and updating; it is being published by Fordham University Press as part of its concentration in matters pertaining to regional history.

I have retained the book’s original Introduction, as well as a Preface that was prepared for the 1988 version. What remains to be added here are those things that should be said to highlight subway developments since 1988.

First, the New York subway system has two new routes today that it did not have when Under the Sidewalks of New York last appeared. a new tunnel under the East River linking Manhattan (East 63 Street) and Queens (Long Island City) opened for revenue service on October 29, 1989 (see page 149 for earlier information about this project); ground was broken in September 1994 to connect this East River tunnel with the ind Queens Boulevard line. the new tunnel brings the number of subway crossings of the East River to an even dozen—ten by tunnel, two by bridge.

In addition, a new two-level subway spur under Archer Avenue in the Jamaica section of Queens that opened in December 1988 now allows passengers to make easier connections between the city subway and the Long Island R.R. Both the city subway and the lirr, incidentally, are operating arms of the same umbrella transport agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York State.

Together, these two new lines are the only routes to be placed in service, thus far, from a once-grandiose plan of subway expansion that was unveiled with such enthusiasm in the late 1960s, but was subsequently scaled back in the face of fiscal reality (see pages 148—152).

In the way of rolling stock, two brand new experimental subway trains were designed, built, and formally unveiled in a ceremony on November 19, 1992; they are currently undergoing operational tests. One was built by Kawasaki for service on the ex-IRT lines, where slightly smaller and narrower rolling stock is required, while the second train was built by Bombardier to the somewhat larger specifications required on the now-combined lines that were once known as the bmt and the ind. (A further note: ex-IRT routes are those that are designated by numerals in the Transit Authority’s current system of train identification, while trains operating on the combined system that was once the bmt and the ind are identified by letters. See page 132 for additional information on this whole business of train identification.) . . .

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