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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  March 10, 2014 7:00am-7:58am EDT

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net. at the heart, for example, of the domain name system is the root services system. very few people appreciate that. in order to resolve names on the internet is an actual root system that makes that work for the entire planet. in the root, all names are resolved to ensure when you type www.c-span.org, for example, any of the website name, you go to the exact site that c-span want you to go to all the time every time for the last two plus decades spent ahead of the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers on the role they play on assigned new internet domain names tonight on "the communicators" at eight eastern on c-span2. >> doug most recounts the competition between boston and new york city to build the nation's first subway system during the late 19th century.
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this is a little under one hour. >> thanks everyone for coming out on this slushy, lovely night. i have done one event so far on this and it was also a sluggishly, lovely night so maybe it's what i should expect going forward for things. it's appropriate, talking to people about this today as i was thinking about the snow come it's appropriate there's snow on the ground because snow as it turned out was a critical factor in the building of subways in this country. i'll talk about that, but subways became to be in large part because of a storm much bigger than the one we are experiencing today and a much deadlier one. i thought what i would do tonight, a couple things. i thought i would talk briefly about the question asked when
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hit by the book is how did you come up with the idea for the book, a natural question you often hear. and i'll talk about that and then i'm going to read a few passages. one thing about the book is it's sort of toggle back and forth between two great cities, boston and new york. that's interesting to talk about because the cities have a bit of history together. a certain gentleman named babe ruth, people to think what started that rivalry but, in fact, it goes back much further than that. and so i'll talk a little bit about that as well. so those to city sort of have a lot in common and a lot of differences. i'll do some readings from a few passages from the book, to give you a flavor of how the book covers boston and new york because they were very different projects when boston opened at subway, it was essentially about a mile of track, a tiny little section of track. when new york opened its sub is
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essentially 20 miles of track. it was a much, much bigger project with the open, and, of course, some people like to joke the boston stop the building after they open the one mile and never improved upon the train. still riding on what they wrote on back then. whereas new york certainly did expand and grow and explode its subway system. so briefly, just how the book came to be. when i first started, i used to be a transportation reporter in new jersey. one of the beats i covered, the "bergen record," and when i covered transit assassinated by trains and transportation issues and when he moved to boston it was a fun experience. start looking for a book idea mr. looking at the idea of the boston subway not knowing it was -- one of the things that was interesting is as a look into the history of it and i discovered nobody had written sort of the true story behind
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how the subway came to be. but then i was interested when it discovered the same time boston was debating and building and taking the subway, new york was doing the exact same thing. at the same time in the late 1800s both cities were completely overrun by immigrants who are flooded into the city in the second half of the 19th century and that overrun the cities. the cities were at the time sort of just fingernails of what they are today. everybody was crammed into just a tiny portion of the city because that was as far out as you could go. if you want to go, take brookline for example, downtown boston to brookline would take you two hours by horse and carriage. people out here, very few people lived out here except for the extremely wealthy and their private carriages and sort of that was the way life was back then. if he did not have a private carriage and you lived downtown
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on one of those sort of streets that was developed very early, that was it. the same thing was true for new york. in new york city everybody lived in the fourth as part of downtown new york city. crammed into the finnell of the island of manhattan, and was only when college began to speed up an electric talley came along and other means of moving people around started to come along that in paper able to move out and without of the city. at first it was a mile, two miles, then for miles and eventually six miles. the city began to expand and grow and that was critical to get people further out from the downtown area where they were living. that was a big moment in the second half of the 19th century that happen with expansion of cities. the book sort of developed from the pivotal moment when city started to expand. what happened was a couple pivotal moments happened.
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the blizzard of 1880. in 1888 a storm unlike nothing we have ever seen since then crippled the entire northeast. at least 400 people but some people estimate 11,000 people were killed in this blizzard. it just devastated the entire northeast. new york, boston and everything in between ground to a standstill. when that happened new york especially sort of took look at the way they were moving the people in the city, the time was an elevated trains and carriages on the streets and said, this has to change. we can't be at the mercy of the skies any longer. we have to change this. boston at the time had already started to look at ways to move people underground. this is where the story became very interesting. there's a gentleman in the boston by the name of henry whitney. if you think of the name whitney in american culture, for me anyway two things come to mind. one of them is the whitney museum in new york city which is
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a famous great miss him, founded by ancestors of the whitney family. another one was eli whitney, back in the fifth grade when i the guy who invented the cotton gin but eli whitney was a cousin of the whitney family. so this family is just one of the most important cultural and -- families that made such an impact on american life today. these two brothers from the whitney family who grew up in conway massachusetts out by springfield, they both play pivotal roles in the two subways, one in boston from one india. henry whitney live right here in brookline and he is essentially single-handedly responsible for what you see now on beacon street. he is the many sort of saw the vision of beacon street becoming what it is today with tracks down the middle, trees lining those tracks, boulevard in both sides of the street, of the tracks, and he sort of saw that in developed that and made a fortune off of it.
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is also the vendor first proposed the idea of building a subway, a tunnel underneath boston common. it had never been done before. in 1887 he waited for the state legislature and proposed for what the time was a radical idea, a tunnel under boston. the idea was met with jeers. a lot of people said the common is sacred ground. don't touch that. can go anywhere near that. he sort of pushed it and he became a critical figure in the subway came to be today. the same time he was doing that, his brother william whitney was getting involved in the street transit system in the city. the interesting thing about these two brothers is that they were polar opposites. henry whitney was a slacker, dropped out of school, bounced around the country trying to find a direction, job. didn't marry until he was in his 40s. when he married a married woman 20 years younger than him and sort of just was directional us for a long time until he got
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involved in transit and real estate. that give them a purpose and a direction and it focused them. his brother was the exact opposite. his brother married, first went to harvard and ntl mac. married into one of the richest families in the country, the pain familpain family of which a fortune in oil. eventually william whitney became an important were in the city who helped bring down boss tweed and eventually with her to run for president and had william whitney want to become president of the united states, he could have. in 1886 the chicago convention there were buttons saint william whitney for president. he didn't want to be president. he came back on given interview to the globe at the time where he said i'm not running for president. very emphatic about buddy up get grover cleveland elected in the 1880s. he became a huge article figure in washington. he got involved in transit in new york. the two brothers became these
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critical figures in these projects. as i discover that and i dove into the life of the whitney family and the subway, i became fascinated with it. two cities, two brothers, and this amazing project. the last reason i wrote this book, maybe some was the first reason, is i think all of us tend to take these things for granted. we ride the subway. we ride these massive things. other projects over the centuries that have been built. when we ride the subway today, whether it's in boston, new york, london, paris, where ever you are, i think we did do not think about how the tunnel came to be. in boston and in europe that tunnel came to be because of immigrants, workers, italians, irish workers came to this country with the sole purpose of digging a tunnel with picks and shovels and axes, their bare hands, horses pulling out cartloads of dirt.
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there were no giant machines that we see today will want by a construction site. there were just men and their tools. that was fascinating to as i look at the tunnel today, i find myself having and appreciation for because i think it's a remarkable feat what these tunnels are today and if you think about they don't leak. we don't see water getting into them. that was done 100 years ago because at the time they need is going to be a critical thing, people need to feel safe, secure, that the air was clean. that was a huge obstacle for them to overcome the centuries ago, man did not want to go down. that was terrifying to mankind, the idea going underground was terrifying. they had to overcome that and convince people that going down there was going to be safe. so that was one of the big achievements of these tunnels was convincing mankind that going underground was safe, secure, not going to flood.
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your tunnel will be light and airy and all of those things. although we sometimes joke debate about light and airy maybe the tunnels are in boston, they really are. they are dry, right? it's pretty amazing. when i ride through the tunnels today i have a special appreciation for how those tunnels came to be. the book tells the story of not just henry whitney and william whitney and some of the big players who were behind this, my gut tells the story of these immigrants. a gentleman named patrick mclaughlin is working on the job one day and a hammer came down and hit him on the head and almost killed him. projects back in, they were sort of knew what they're doing. they were learning as they went. dynamite, a think about it, was something that was brand-new in the late 1800s. dynamite was something they never worked before in boston or new york and you they were blowing up things in your city
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under the city streets. it was crazy. they didn't quite know how to harness the power of dynamite and yet they were doing it. so the book tells the story of the big people and the little people. i wanted to sort of reflect both of those things. i hope when you read the book, what you take away from it, is a special appreciation for how to get around the city, the city of boston, new york, how those tunnels came to be. it's a remarkable feat. there are still some was being built today, including in new york, they're building the second avenue subway in the same company not only built the original new york subway but built boston's big dig. there's a lot of connections between boston and new york from this project that still exists to this day. so the bookstore tells a lot of those connections.
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i'm going to sue everybody in this room has perhaps written on the nuke sub with some points am not going to ignore new york. i will give you a flavor of what happened in the two cities. the first piece i want to read to you is from the first chapter of the book and is probably my favorite chapter to research and write. before the nuke subway opened and the nuke subway opened in 1904, before the subway opened, 50 years earlier, there was a gentleman named alfred beach, an inventor who invented things like a typewriter for the blind. and lots of other sort of quirky inventions. amazing man. he had a dream in the late 1840s, early 1850s, that new york needed a subway. this was 50 years before new york would get his subway. he had the stream to give new york a subway, but there was an obstacle in his way. i will read a short portion from
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this chapter. devlin's clothing store was a five story thriving commercial success. brothers daniel and jeremiah opened their business in 1843, a few blocks away from city hall. but when business took off and he did more space for their endless racks of ready-made frocks, suits come on bro's, ties and trashes but one of the reasons the new space new the corner worked so well was the gigantic basement which went to levels deep underground. alfred beach needed such a space for his new business. the beach pneumatic transit company. after scouting for real estate all on broadway, when he saw the basement of devlin's yo you note it could be accessed from the sidewalk and he negotiated deal with her brothers. for $4000 a year released their entire basement for period of five years starting in 868. he spent the measure focused on a single piece of machinery he would need to be kissed him.
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the device he came up with ingenious and resembled a hollowed out better and used a water pump. he also designed a hood over the edge of the shield to protect its workers from falling debris, or in a catastrophic event of a collapse. before he could start digging out a different kind of catastrophe nearly derailed his project. a pair of cronies in boston we scheme to drive up the price of gold by buying in bulk. by mid-september the price had risen to astronomical $137 per ounce and by the morning of friday september 24, 250. frenzy in the wall street and riots nearly broke up in the national guard was put on notice. ted gold kept rising. brokers lives were destroyed. one even shot himself at home before the day was a. by the time the government intervened and sold $4 million in gold, it was too late. wall street's first black friday
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expose how two men acting alone could bring the country to the brink of financial ruin. black friday toshiba including beach lost a fortune that he was two for invested in his subway to stop. three months after black friday he was ready to start telling. in late december 1869, beach, his son frederick, in a small group of men arrived at devlin's after the store closed for the night. they brought picks and shovels, covered wagons, and other tools. following instructions to down south under broadly, curve slightly to build a murray street, the laborers worked quietly to avoid arousing suspicion on the streets but. night after night six men would stay inside six men would stay inside this you want another half dozen perform the task to polish the total. cemetery of the dirt and covered wagons but others laid the bricks to london to. others laid the track to carry a single core. the walls were painted white, iron rods were installed throughout the tunnel's roof up to the tape and and gas lines and oxygen masks were on the it was inefficient operation bite
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back scare. claustrophobic for some who walked off the job. the rumbling from the street railways overhead created a terrifying roar that made the late-night work nerve-wracking. stilstill thanks to surprise sut so inefficient a windshield, the digging went quickly and on the good that one group would dig forward eight seat. beach was relieved at how smoothly it progress and a woman of the shield buckled and the ground should. assaulted ground should. the soft dirt into an in and workers stared at a stone wall in front of them. it was an old dutch fort from before the revolutionary war. each faced a dilemma. eyes of the wall had to come down for the project was over. nobody knew it is moving the wall would cause broadway debacle or collapse from about. it took several nights in beach stood by as every stone was removed and pass worker to worker and card at the night. the ceiling held, the wall came down and the digging resumed. as hard as he tried to keep his work is secret from the world
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above, it was impossible. the operation required wooden scaffolding and argued and occasional pieces of enormous be she noted that would arrive at the corner where it would sit for hours our days before \mr.{-|}\mister is a disappearing down the steps never to be seen again. new york's mayor, one of boston with oils, grew suspicious of what the beach pneumatic transition company was a giveaway section of broadway near warren songs ever so slightly, the mayor acted. on january 3, 1870 he said an aide with a written order demand to be let in so you could inspect the work. he got nowhere. the men had strict orders to let nobody can enter but anyone who tried that they were granted a charter by the state to complete their tongue. for whether his work was responsible for the mycenae abroad for, the response was simple. nonsense. "the new york times" reported the flat the next day and suggested the mayor was not going to back away. as the street t which the county commenced operation partially blocked up, the paper will come
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it is likely the mayor would counsel them to remove these. but the beach was equally stubborn. on january 8 he released a statement in reference to the ridiculous stories, the doors being closed to all persons, there is no truth to them. the company promised to make any repairs to the surface and begged for four more weeks of patients. the mayor backed off and beach bought himself time. one month later, 50 days after the digging began, the tunnel was finished but it was a perfect cylinder of 312 feet. all that was needed now with the two most important pieces, the subway car and the fan to blow the car down the tracks. that's a little piece of history were alfred beach built essentially a secret subway tunnel. is just a great story where he was determined to not let asked we get in his way. when predefined that what he's doing needless to say he was not happy because tweeted had a stake in this transit system, taking a nickel out of every
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fair the idea of a subway in the city really angered and. so it's a great story of this little guy taking on the big guy. if you want to call a david and goliath, that's a fun way to look at it but the story of alfred beach was remarkable. that's a piece for the new york and. let me skip ahead to boston. so boston story has a lot of interesting angle to some one of them to be was most interesting was when he first started digging on the subway site downtown and i'm going to reach a piece of when the construction actually began. the contractor on the job in boston was a man named michael meehan. they called me in a bill. the, quickly filled up with wagons, lumber and tip carts loaded with dirt. piles of pics and show were all over enemy mars descent imager dozens of men, sometimes 100 jostling for position to get
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news. the most important person was not michael meehan but his son rob. the contractor's office how to roll top desk and culture and no one was allowed in without a password. meehanville was a makeshift bill or -- a makeshift town. no smoking was allowed during working hours so in the shed is began a place where pipe smoke-filled ever from bedfordshire were into the ground, robert was entrusted by father to take the names and addresses of the workers who had congregated every morning. he was also the timekeeper on the job and a general utility mact answered all questions. each morning he would take down information of the many gathered, explain if and when the service were required they would receive a letter in the know and be expected to arrive probably at a.m. on a sunday.
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at first only 25 were needed fot those expected to go to 50, 100, and possibly more than a thousand a day. as more equipment was brought in, the tragedy brad walker. as soon as the project started, no one could walk anywhere without being cornered and pressured for work. they were celebrities and everyday letters begging for work were thrust into the hands. mean spoke pleasantly to each man and refer them to his son. if you want a pic and shelley is one of the men? no, i was something easy, the man replied. welcome there are no steps around her, and he laughed. another a different approach of putting -- appealing to tragedies softer side. my wife told me not to come home with tonight without a job and she means business. it worked. i'll save you the time.
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take a shovel, get to work. most times is in sync the right and someone showed up on schedule and put an honest days work and only occasionally they would be disciplined. an irishman on the choppers of weeks stop chewing up to was spotted in a cab and was arrested for stealing tools from the construction site. for those incidents were rare and meehan and jones tried their best to hire men they work and tested. meehan made no secret, the first was to be citizens of the country. the second was to come from the same neighborhood as meehan, to make it plain. meehan made no secret of his affection for the irish and his disdain for the italians who showed up at the site every morning. one is odd a group of italian talking only anytime any right away they would not make us less. the italians are not wanted. they hold aloof from the others but i told him none of the voters would be employed. i'm going to employ my friends.
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i never lost anything by stand by them and who supported me. that was not entirely true. he lost money. the italians would've worked for lower wages but meehan didn't care. if i hired a count of $1.20 a day, and work them for 10 hours, i could make a good deal more money on this job he said, but i'm not doing business that way. the first 20 men picked were, nine were laborers who worked with him before. the rescued from other parts of boston indicate to to his word about italians. as long as they kept speaking italian, they would have to wait the opportunity to work in meehanville. at least until the demand for more bodies was greater. that's a little glimpse into the world of the contractors back them. we like to think of ourselves as today being so ethical and conscious of those things. back then there was none of that. i'm going to hire my buddies and nothing you can do to stop me. and he was right. they didn't stop them. going to skip ahead briefly to the first day of the boston subway open. this was september 1, 1897.
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the project to enhance years, and as far-fetched as this may seem to believe, they came in under budget. and was expected to cost like $1 came in at $4.2 million. heard remarkable when you think about what some other projects around it might have cost today and getting them under budget not so easy. this is sort of an exciting glimpse of the very first day and you can imagine what it was like to sort of see a subway car for the first time. imagine what that must have been like. just a personal aside, something that happened to me. when i was in new york city about two years ago with my family and two kids, we went down to the 79th street subway, a neighborhood i used to live in mit to do with me and we walked down the and we had this one or my wife and i were sitting on a bench and our two kids were waiting for the subway to come and they kept running up
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to the yellow line and looking down the tracks sort of see this coming and then it would run back to us and forth. back and forth and back and forth but it was one of these funny most were they just kept wanting it to come. i father snapped a picture of them on my phone because the two events were looking down the tracks like this waiting. i mentioned in an the end of the book because as i reflected on the moment it reminded me that their excitement and anticipation must have been what it was like more than 100 years ago for new yorkers and bostonians to stare down these dark masters titles, places where they've never been before and to wait for this life was going to come, a train that would emerge from the darkness and take them somewhere. for my kids that was all that mattered but it must've been like that is ago. i thought that was an interestiinteresti ng anecdote i wanted to share because it meant something to me and i could appreciate it. this is the first day. when jimmy walked into the shed
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looking natty than usual in a convenient form, single breasted dark blue coat, seven gold buttons and a cap with a straight pfizer in two bands of gold, he greeted passengers and confessed with no hesitation he was tired after a night of restless sleep dreams of a sprawling kept him awake he said. one of the last passengers to arrive was the chief inspector, fred sterns kind of take up a spot on the cars footboard we could warn or disasters to get their hands and heads inside to avoid bumping into trees. after one final inspection to make sure the car was ready, the doors to the garage open and the passengers let out a hearty cheer as electric motor set the tone on his way. a nine was the benches were not filled yet but they would be sooner. outside a small group shouted out words of encouragement. get there and don't let any of them get ahead of you. he turns his as his car rounded a bend and he brake to stop to allow another dozen passengers on board.
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all aboard for the subway and pork should be shot with confidence. a voice shouted back, you did that without a study. the bell rang out and the car pulled away again. the journey from austin to cambridge to boston took about 20 minutes most mornings but in usual number of passengers at this are deleted a few extra seconds at each stop the by the time the car richboro street in cambridge across the charles river from boston and older jump and want to get on board found were no seats left and he was told he'd have to wait for the next were. not a chance each other. he said his name was cw davis, he deserved to make history with the rest of them. he said back in 1856 a written on the first horse pulled powered up and he wanted to achieve another first today. the schedule called for a car every half hour i in those dayse said, and that was thought to be faster and. people have learned to move a lot faster these days. passengers could not refuse the charming mr. davis and they cleared a space for him. when a photographer hollowed to
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let the choices for administrative photographic, he was refused. too nervous about falling behind schedule but as the cargo closer to boston the crowds grew numb is with men and woman and children waiting and waiting their hands high. flower bouquets were visible front but they're being crushed more with each stop. the car was brimming over its edges to passengers standing on the footboard. despite the pleas of stearns to give all parts inside. as reid steered his car, both sides if she were lined with see people and the roar became loud. up ahead he could remake of the entrance to the tele. a black hole surrounded by a sea people dressed in black. at the final stop before the tunnel entrance between arlington street and charles street when it seems there is not a single inch of the month in sight, to more people reached up and grab hold of an armed those being held by another arm under pulled up on board and swallowed up by the excitable mess.
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the spaces between the seats were filled with stained these. the platform surpassed like -- packed like sardines packages. a car with seats are 45 passengers and standing room for a few dozen more had 140 passengers. with reid at the controls, the public art on slept at the clock on the arlington street church pointing at 6:00, car number 1750 to craft to the subway downward slope. if there was a time to stop and acknowledge a moment, this was it. maybe a speech from the mayor was in order or from the ex-mayor, or henry whitney or governor wolcott or the chief engineer henry carson to anybody who went ahead and bring america's first subway, and electric subway to this day. not only was it completed on time into enough years, they came in a $4.2 million under the 5 million projected cost. it was construct without
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disrupted -- destruction to the street as thought. one of my favorite quotes as a first went underground, which is the passengers on the front seat stood up and get those and leaned forward during a had to forward during a busy websites awaited him and from the rear a shot rang out. down in front last my everybody wanted to see what was ahead of them. what was interesting about today's the two subways open, boston being boston did a very understated. there was no huge speech. it was no big deal. it was just the subways here and here we go. in new york the entire world was invited. the president was invited to the governor was there. it was a big deal. new yorkers like to celebrate and they did. it was a very different, have the two cities celebrated these
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momentous moments. let me read you, the last thing of the region recipes from new york's first day which was equally exciting but very different. outside city hall, a sea of more than 5000 people covered the steps, filled with applause and surrounded the kiosk of the city hall station. it was almost 2:30 p.m. when a procession of men in long black frocks came bounding down the steps. they marched briskly into a rope off quarter lined by police who thought the crowd back. as the subways show manager lead of the group toured city hall kiosk, they were greeted by cheers and applause that drowned out the tooting factory whistles. the horns of ferries and tugs at the nearby harbor and the chiming of church bells. he opened the station door and the group with the mayors to holding a mahogany case descended the steps to the platform. a shiny silver subway train with eight cars sat there. in seconds it was filled above
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its capacity with officials and a few dozen stragglers who managed to sneak in behind them before the station door closes. in the front car, mcclellan opened up a special case revealed a silver key, doesn't fit very well he said. but after tinkering for a few seconds he succeeded. with a sudden hissing noise the electric motor buzzed to life. are we ready, the mayor hollowed? all right, slow at first remember. mcclellan cut a dashing figure. a city alderman by the time is 27 he was elected mayor in 1903 at the age of 38. his father had run against abraham lincoln for president and been a famous civil war general idea no formal role in the construction. he was savvy enough to realize his citizens were clamoring for it. on his first day in office he took a tour of the tunnels to shows interest and appreciation
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for. unlike his most immediate predecessors who were voted out of office in a year or two, mcclellan proved popular enough to last five years into his term has funds for huge public works progress grew as he oversaw the construction of the queensboro and manhattan bridges. for the subway you know to benefit from writing in office at the right time and he made history when he pushes in forward and begin the first subway ride in new york's history. the car rounded a corner in the lives of brooklyn station human to do. the car stopped when emergency brake was bombed. america kind of things and had a sober moving again in no time picking up speed. as they pulled into the spring street station, mcclellan said shelley slow her down here? you're going slow enough but aren't you tired of it? don't you want the modem into the gold? like a boy with his nato, the mayor shot back with a quick reply. no, sir. i am running this thing. soothing of 14 straight and long fourth avenue which is now
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parked, mcclellan pushed the train fastest passengers oblivious to how nervous he was making headley. into grand central they came, and then it was going to a minute later the passengers spotted a large electric sign, four feet high and 20 long with a single word glowing. times. mcclellan shut out times square station but a set of slowing he pushed the subway harder up to 43 per hour, far faster than heather higgins is we're going and what was supposed the illusion a pleasure trip. up the website with a 66 where headley said slower here, slower, easy for the curve. they passed a worker sidestepped the train when he saw it coming and going towards the last xmas station at 96 were slid over switch in the ground onto northbound local drug. 19 minutes, about five minutes longer would normally take under the control of the professional
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motorman but impressive nonetheless. it was at 96 were mcclellan took his hand off the control and let the motorman onboard, george morrison, takeover. mcclellan taking out a cigar shook his tired wrist. that was a little tiresome, don't you know? why do you to keep rising that thing down all the time? with morrison at the controls the train continued north into without warning the passengers had been staring mostly a darkened tunnels were suddenly looking out into the desk. north of one and 20 seconds with the subway train emerged onto a viaduct across manhattan valley. it was filled with where it ran in open air and new yorkers neww of this precise spot, came out to cheer it on shouting from the streets but in response more simpler the trains whistle before it disappeared back out of sight. a little glimpse into new york's opening. [applause] a really is the star of two cities, the story of two cities that had close relationships on
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the one hand, and two brothers have close relationships at the same time the cities and the brothers had a little bit of competition with each other. and when boston opened first it was a great quote the rent in the near times. it was a telling quote. new york took great pride in being a much bigger city and a much more bold and inventive, leading city in the country is not the world, and yet they had to stand by and watch us austin, this tiny little ho dunk down 200 miles to the north opened the country for subway. the quote in the near times said it would be the first open subway in this country, and it was a hit into the minds of new yorkers, this is a bit of calling for them they had let boston be first. they would catch up into time but lost in did get the first and it's a fun story to tell. i hope it gives you insight into this but like i said the book is not just about the big players, it's about the little people. that's one of things i hope
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comes away from is a special appreciation for not only our subway but new york's in london's in paris and all of the great underground cities that exist today. london opened the first world subway. new york and boston didn't come until more than 40 years later so there's a big gap between the worlds first subway and america's first subway. in the book explores what it was. a lot of reasons why. so i'll stop there and i'm happy to sort of talk about anything you want to talk about or questions you might have. one thing that comes up sometimes people ask me does the book explored this or that? the purpose of this book was to stop when subway open because as we know, you can write a hold of the book about expansion of subways and what happened after the open. this book is about the debating, the construction, the digging and eventually the opening, but it's not about what happens after. i wanted it to be about sort of that process which was just interesting to me.
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so i will stop there. questions, things you want to talk about. yes? [inaudible] >> it's a good question. does the beach tunnel still exist? in 1912 workers were construction company were expanding the new york city subway, the irt, stumbled if you want to call it that. they were working down the and "the new york times" knew of the tunnel, the beach though as was suggested that in the course of doing this extension they might bump into something down there. and sure enough they did. they bumped into, they broke through a wall and remarkably they found this car that had been the very first subway car beach used. it was an amazing find it one of the saddest things of that find is that the response was, that sort of interesting. moving on. they didn't save it or preserve
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it or -- they just sort of kept right going. there's a great photo of a guy sitting in the car and you can see it, that the car was in mostly pristine condition but it was rotted but you could see. it had its shape and everything and it was a great project so that the discovery in 1912 and it was never preserve. it was a great piece of history. >> you just talked about how you researched, pretty old and not well written about spent a couple ways. the research comes from a couple of great resources. first of all, newspapers, a lot of publicity these days for how they're doing. i will say that the reporting back then in the newspapers was remarkable. and go into the libraries into the cities, a lot of it is online unfortunately, we can do research online and in newspapers but they were remarkable for othe of the covee these projects in such tremendous together when you quote that is given in the book,
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those of course obviously that came from somebody that were most likely from the newspapers when it reported on the job and covering these things. both cities have transit commissions that kept remarkably detailed reports of these projects, and those reports are still of able to the. i was able to get access to those reports, especially the boston transit commission create reports mike 1891-1899, and they were like 400 pages each time the they were remarkable for the detail because they really explained the building of the tunnels and how they were secured and dealt, but it was accident on the jobsite and have a report of the accident, details about that. and lastly, especially some of the bigger names of people in the book, fortune left their papers behind. that's a very common thing. william whitney for example, the wiki brother left all of his papers behind of the liber of congress in washington, and that
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was great to have that. i went down to the liber and spent a couple of days down at the liber of congress poring through his letters and things like that. there's a touching moment in the book where one of his children died, and you could get inside his mind about what was going through his head when that happened. how that sort of was an emotional time for him. there were a lot of which the research and reporting came to light through reports and papers and private newspapers and things like that to another key character in the book is a guy named william steinway. you think of steinway today, the first thing comes to mind is what? that guy, the guy who came over from germany and dissension was the p. in a manufacturing giant, was a huge figure in the new york subset -- subway transit project. he left his diary to the smithsonian. there are some great moments you can read his diary, great things. his diary is such a personal thing. people writing down the innermost thoughts. there's one night that he wrote
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about him he went to bed with the very anxious they coming up ahead the next day, and he went to bed dreaming of burglars breaking into his house. as a writer and as a reporter, as a researcher you dream of those things because i am not inside william steinway said 150 years ago, imagine what he's dreaming about. that was pretty cool to get access to that stuff. so it's me. of the questions? >> i like subways and things that go underground so went to the new york transportation museum which is very cool. they have some old cars. what was interesting, one was the tracks, the numerics and alphas and those two different ones but and also the fact -- a second thought just left my head. sorry. >> some of the very early lines that exist today both in boston and india, the colors, it was a very early sort of innovation in boston. people have asked me what was the first train line in new
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york, the route that it did, and the rout was sort of a combination of the anc lines in new york. crossed over, up the west side of central park and crossed back over in harlem. at the time when opened a new subway, the eastside have a lot of opposition but they didn't want the subway. and rather than let that get in the way, they just above find, we will go about you. they avoid the entire east side of new york but if you look at the very first tracks that happen in nukes become a literally goes west side and avoid the entire weeks pashtun eastside and that didn't happen until years later. >> to actually build the two lines parallel. they had a local and express at the same time which was a brilliant plan. >> it was a brilliant plan, and it was conceived by the guy who i mentioned earlier, parsons, i've been getting from the build of the big dig, building second avenue subway in europe and the first of a new. he was the chief engineer giunta
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project and he was instrumental in coming up with that idea for express and local trains. that was a critical thing for new york. >> i've seen a picture of cannot believe the first part of the subway in boston and it was a big trench to the most to build and covered it up to you were talking about tunneling. was a lot of tunneling going on in boston or mostly they would open it up to? >> it's a great question. both cities used for the most part a method called the cut and cover method which is exactly what it sounds like. cut a trench, lay the tracks, cover it all. athat's it was built in boston and for most of new york that's how it was built. the difference was in nukes are a couple stations, a couple parts of the city of new york if you've ridden around in a manhattan subway, where you sometimes have to take an elevator way down deep, happens up in washington heights area or around 180th street, other places. if you think about what
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manhattan is, it's a rock. is a giant rock come and they had to build a subway through this took a lot of places are able to just cut and cover, but there were some places where they were not and that's what they had to tunnel. they tunneled using dynamite. it was risky and dangerous, and bad things happened, and workers died and there was a big explosions because they were unfamiliar with how to control dynamite. they would set off a blast under the city and then they, a pattern as we wait 10 minutes before we go under there. because that gives times for loose rocks to fall into seven. sometimes we'll would happen is they would wake him and, go down and in the rock would fall. they were just learning how it works. for the most part it was cut and cover but there were some spots where the did some actual tunneling your. >> did beach live to see either one of these subway systems open? >> beach diet passionate she did not. each died in 1901.
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i take that back. it was open when boston open but he was in new york. he died before the new york subway opened. so he did not live to see it but his story has certainly lived on. [inaudible] yes, for cape cod canal which is suffering its 100th anniversary. that happen in 1914. [inaudible] >> yes, correct. spent the question is, can you talk about the finance? who financed those projects because it's a good question, how do these projects get finance. the new york store, i have a whole chapter a special on the boston, when the bids were opened in boston. it was bid out to private contractors and they all bid on and this guy, michael meehan was awarded a contract. a bundle of psychic you think
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the lowest bidder would get the job. the lowest bidder on the boston job was a brooklyn contractor. and mysteriously the brooklyn contractor didn't get the job. michael meehan went to the transit commission and sort of lobbied and said, he was very close passionate to set the lowest bidder, went to the commissioner and said he did not want to give this to a new york contractor. it's too high profile, too important and needs to go to local contractor. mysteriously the bid was overruled and meehan got the job. for the most part it was done that way three bidding process. the new york financing was one of the reasons why the new job happen later. they were thinking about it before boston. they were ahead of the curve. they were ready to move, but new york had a lot of problems arranging the financing. it was a big pivotal moment that happened in 1891 when new yorkers have essentially said were ready for subway, we want a subway, let's do it. a big thing happen in city hall
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in new york where they fight all these people to come to bid for the project, a very open process, and nobody did. it was like this enormous sort of huge high profile moment. if other going to get lots of people getting and here it is and nobody did but it was sort of, steiner, a big mom first timer, a big letdown. they were dejected after that and it's one of the moments in parsons sort of thought for years is going to be the guy to build the subway in new york and he sort of said that's it, i'm done, i'm going to leave. eventually he left to china. he is in china working on a huge project there and he gets a cable gram that says comeback, we are ready to build no. so he comes back. [inaudible] >> it was a huge obstacle to
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overcome. one of the transit commission reports, they were explicit in saying that the still has to be able to float on water. they knew they had to make it so secure and so safe and watertight that it just would not get any water because they knew the public was terrified of that, that's was going to happen, water was going to coming. there's an anecdote in the book with the first time in boston the engineer and the chief contractor took a group of people like the mayor and the governor down into the tunnel and sort of, everyone was prepared for this to be dank, dark, smelly and what. that's what they expected it to be. at one point he sort of flipped on switch and gentlemen but this is a time when lightbulbs were new. edison invented the lightbulb sort of a decade earlier. so it was a new thing. and sort of flipped a switch and the entire tunnel was bathed in bright white light, and everyone was just, wow.
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it was clean and bright and airy and smelled just like the air up above. they were all shocked. they couldn't believe it. so they did a remarkable job, and the books what explains in great detail how they did, how they see it, how they protected it. they would be moments when they were digging and someone would come up from will come up from below into how to really seal it off and put another layer of concrete and steel. so what happened, but for the most part they did a remarkable job of sealing that come off. >> i write a public policy blog for a new transportation, the hyperlink, and would give anything to recommend for the future transportation projects? >> it's funny you bring that up. for those of you who heard of a dreamer today, elon musk, he is sort of the guy who owns testimony and he's been the news a lot for some of these big projects but i like to think of
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-- who owns tesla. if you think about what alfred beach did, even though beaches did not build the first subway because it will just went one block and didn't really become a subway, but what alfred beach did was he set in motion a dream. he set in motion this idea that we can do something big. he made new yorkers believe that this could really happen. even though it didn't happen for another 40 years or so. is the idea he put out there that we can build a subway, we can do this, was a big deal. for people like him on musk who put forth a sort of similar bold, i just people laugh at and mock and say, he but for the this idea build a supersonic electromagnetic kind of go between northern and southern california at 800 miles an hour. a jet essentially. a lot of people sort of laugh and say that's never going to happen, it's impossible. it's not going to happen profit in any of our lifetimes, but
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those were the people, people who sort of put forth those ideas for big dreams and big ideas are critical today. even if they don't achieve their dream, someone else might pick up another generation behind them. i think that's important to in the book, the inside of addresses that. there was a guy at the rand corporation in california, robert salter, wrote a paper sort of opposing with him on musk has proposed a, something similar, this electromagnetic tube that would run across countries and will go across country in half an hour in a tube under the highway system essentially. will it ever happen? probably not, but again someone like robert salter leads to some like élan musk and the belief system tells we eventually gets there. that's how those things happen to advance great to have those people who bring forth those big ideas even if we never see them. [inaudible] having some time between boston
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and new york. >> right. how they would be to get to new york in 20 minutes? [inaudible] >> anyway, it would be great to again when i get there one day. unidas people to least put forth those big ideas because they will never happen unless someone says a. i know to go shake him we laugh but it was the president said we'll go to the moon went and people last -- people laugh at him back then. any other questions? no? good. thank you for your time ever coming out. [applause] >> i'm happy to sign any books you have them or anything else. any other questions. [inaudible conversations]
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>> to me, i love the london underground and the paris underground. they are expanding it now. [inaudible] >> [inaudible conversations]
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>> thank you. i appreciate it. hi. spent this is for a cousin. evan is a train buff. this is an aside, he is a high school correspondent. >> all, really? >> thanks a lot spend it was great to see. i'm glad you came out. how are you? >> pretty well. >> thanks are coming out. >> thank you.

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