As the population of New York - and specifically Manhattan - grew throughout the 19th century, boundaries grew strained and surface transportation increasingly difficult. However, through the vision and financial backing of a handful of wealthy investors, by the early part of the 20th-century New Yorkers were living in the outlying boroughs of The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, and commuting across the rivers into Manhattan on a system of public transportation that in scope is still unrivalled. In this text Clifton Hood traces the history of the New York City subway system - the planners and powerbrokers, the politics and the economics that surrounded the enterprise.
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(229mm x 152mm x 24mm)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
As crammed with facts and figures as a rush-hour express is with passengers, this history of the New York subway system stalls time and again. Hood (American History/Hobart and William Smith Colleges) has researched his subject thoroughly: He comments knowledgeably on the geological composition of Manhattan and the surrounding terrain, and demonstrates how subterranean peculiarities affected the construction of the subway. He also shows how, from its beginning, New York's rapid transit was a pawn in the struggle to dominate the financial and political life of the metropolis - a struggle that included August Belmont's monopolization of municipal transportation as well as the Tweed Gang's corrupt control of licensing and labor, control that resulted in tunnel cave-ins and other misfortunes. But when Hood examines how the construction of the subways influenced the expansion of the city, he falters: It's no surprise that the establishment of a rapid and reliable mode of transportation between the city's workplaces and its outlying boroughs fostered the settlement of these previously inaccessible areas. Hood provides a few fresh insights, however, as when he analyzes the discriminatory practices that shaped the original development of the Jackson Heights section of Queens. And though he generally fails to leaven his statistics-heavy text (miles of track laid, number of passengers carried, amount of budget money allocated, etc.) with pertinent anecdotes, his story of class-conscious Vogue editor Edna Woodman Chase is winsome: Chase, upon learning that a member of her staff had flung himself in front of a subway train, said, "[At Vogue], if we must kill [ourselves], we take sleeping pills." Of some interest to urban historians, but slow-going for general readers. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Clifton Hood
Clifton Hoodis assistant professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. He was formerly a curator of the LaGuardia Archives at LaGuardia College, City University of New York.