Alfred Beach's Subway Plan
Clip: Season 9 | 1m 31s
The first effort to build an experimental subway dates back to the 1850s when inventor Alfred Ely Beach argued that a horse-drawn subway, under Broadway, would put an end to congestion and the filth of New York City’s streets. By the 1860s, Beach had a different idea: a pneumatic subway, pulled by a rope of air. A giant fan would drive a train through a tunnel, as fast as 10 miles per hour.
Problems Playing Video?
Excavation workers, called “sandhogs,” faced many dangers working in a confined space.
Two city blocks, or 28 acres, were initially cleared for Penn Station’s construction.
In 1961 the Pennsylvania Railroad announced it had sold the air rights above Penn Station.
Tunneling under the Hudson river proved easy, but the East River was becoming a nightmare.
Measurements showed that the Pennsylvania RR Hudson River tunnels were shifting.
The masonry work on Pennsylvania Station began in 1908.
The Pennsylvania Railroad announced they would be tunneling into Manhattan.
Alfred Ely Beach had an idea for a pneumatic subway, pulled by a rope of air.
New York’s topography presented a special engineering challenge for subway planners.
At least 7,700 men would be needed to build the Interborough Rapid Transit, or IRT.
In the late 19th-century, an engineer was regarded as a god-like figure.
Running New York's subway would require the most powerful electrical plant in the world.
In June, 1902, subcontractor, Ira Shaler, suffered a fatal accident in the east tunnel.