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The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway [Format Kindle]

Doug Most

Prix éditeur - format imprimé : EUR 16,02
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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

In the late nineteenth century, as cities like Boston and New York grew larger, the streets became increasingly clogged with horse-drawn carts.  When the great blizzard of 1888 brought New York City to a halt, a solution had to be found. Two brothers—Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York City—pursued the dream of his city being the first American metropolis to have a subway and the great race was on. The competition between Boston and New York was played out in an era not unlike our own, one of economic upheaval, job losses, bitter political tensions, and the question of America's place in the world.

The Race Underground is peopled with the famous, like Boss Tweed, and Thomas Edison, and the not-so-famous, like the countless "sandhogs" who dug and blasted into the earth's crust, sometimes losing their lives in the process of building the subway's tunnels. Doug Most chronicles the science of the subway, looks at fears people had about travelling underground and tells a story as exciting as any ever ripped from the pages of U.S. history. The Race Underground is a great American saga of two rival American cities, the powerful interests within, and an invention that changed the lives of millions.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 5007 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 415 pages
  • Editeur : St. Martin's Press (4 février 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00EGJE39A
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°320.714 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  126 commentaires
26 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The parallel stories of the buiding of the subways in New York and Boston 7 décembre 2013
Par Alan L. Chase - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I have always been fascinated with subway systems - their operation, their construction and their evolution. I have ridden and explored the subway systems in cities as diverse as London, Paris, Moscow, Montreal, Seoul, Singapore, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, D.C., NYC and Boston. From my first experiences as a kid riding the El from Everett to Boston Garden to see the circus right up to today for my daily commute on the Red Line, the MBTA has been a part of my life. I have known from reading the signs at Park Street that the MBTA Green Line was the first subway line in America. I had no idea how closely tied together were the stories of the construction of the NYC subways and the Boston subways. This fascinating new book tells those parallel stories in a way that brings the history to light and to life.

Two brothers from the powerful Whitney family each played a role in creating what have become Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority. These two brothers—Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York City - were at the centers of the beehives of political intrigue, financial manipulations, real estate deals and engineering innovations in a desperate attempt to help their respective cities solve the problem of street traffic that threatened to strangle both metropolises.

This true story of rivalry and cooperation reads like a Gothic novel, and is peopled with familiar figures like Thomas Edison, Boss Tweed, Grover Cleveland and Frederick Law Olmstead. The author, Doug Most, digs deep into a large storehouse of primary documents to get to the real story and subplots of how both systems came to be built. Along the way, he pays tribute to the many figures - political leaders, inventors, engineers, financiers, and sand hogs - who moved heaven and earth to turn the impossible into the possible, and to create the systems that are part of the daily lives of millions of citizens.

When I ride these two subway systems now - as I do each month - I will have a much "deeper" appreciation for what it took to create them and of what it takes to keep them running safely and securely.
14 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Beneath Their Feet 3 décembre 2013
Par The Ginger Man - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
In my twenties, I often rode the Boston subway from Arlington station to Park Street without having any idea that this short run was the first section of electric powered subway to be opened anywhere in the world. In The Race Underground, Doug Most tells this story as part of a compelling portrait of two great Gilded Age cities struggling to progress from a pre-industrial transportation system to a world powered by a newly harnessed source of energy.

New York and Boston experienced explosive growth in the 19th century. With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, New York was transformed into a hub for American imports and exports. Population grew from a pre-Canal level of 170,000 to 1.2 million by 1880. New York and Boston were the first and fourth largest American cities at the time and each grew daily as immigrants flooded into their environs. Unfortunately, transportation infrastructure changed little as this growth occurred. Horse-pulled streetcars had served for 50 years but "slowly began to cripple two great American cities."

The New York Tribune argued that a traveler could journey halfway to Philadelphia in less time than he could traverse the length of Broadway. American Architect and Building News characterized Boston's sidewalks as "jammed to suffocation." In addition to the crowding was the stench from piles of manure which could include as much as 50 pounds a day for each of the thousands of horses in both cities. "Urban transport," argues Most,"had become the single biggest civic headache. Traffic was an outright obsession of newspapers and their readers." And the only direction to look to ease the congestion was Down.

The Race Underground focuses most fully on how each city developed the public will to confront this problem. London's first subway had opened as far back as 1863. New York and Boston were not ready to follow this lead, however, wrestling as much with financial and political questions concerning transportation as with engineering issues. The author follows New York's flirtation with pneumatic and steam technologies before it finally passed the Rapid Transit Act of 1891. Even then, little progress occurred and a second Act had to be adopted in 1894. By that time, Boston had passed a referendum by a narrow vote of 15,548 to 14,209 to "construct and maintain one or more tunnels" in the city. The plan was for the city to build 1.8 miles of subway tunnels at a cost of five million dollars to be leased to a private company to operate.

The high point of The Race Underground is Most's description of the historic build in Boston. Powered by Frank Sprague's track, meters and overhead wire inventions and made attractive to users with station lighting developed by Edison, eleven Boston contractors employed a Cut and Cover construction process. Rather than boring up to 200 feet under the ground as in London, Boston engineers dug trenches 50 feet deep, installed tracks and lighting, sealed water out and covered the tunnel. In less than 3 years and at a cost of four million dollars, the first electric subway in the world was opened from Arlington Street station to the Park Street Church. On the morning of September 1, 1897, the streets were deserted as all transportation took place underground and the Boston Globe headlined: "First Car off the Earth" in a special edition.

The Race Underground is another in a list of outstanding books that have detailed transportation revolutions in the Industrial Age. While not as comprehensive as McCullough's histories of the Brooklyn Bridge and Panama Canal or Ambrose's account of the Transcontinental Railroad, Most's tale is a fast-paced, entertaining story of two cities overcoming cumbersome political processes to confront challenging, but ultimately solvable, problems. There isn't really much of a New York-Boston rivalry here and little evidence of a real competition between the cities to complete construction. The real challenge, then as now, as shown by Most, was in how to marshall public will to identify and confront obstacles to prosperity. In doing this, the author has written a rousing history that can also serve as a lesson to an era in which such public will is sorely lacking.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating subject; confusing writing 23 janvier 2014
Par Robert C. ross - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Mr. Most had a very interesting story to tell, and if you could plow through the structural problems, it gave great insights into some of the most interesting engineering battles and accomplishments of the mid to late 1900s.

But, his convoluted paragraphs made it very difficult to follow the story. He delights in setting up an event in the first sentence, moving 400 miles away to the middle of another event, coming back to the first and then instead of concluding, jumping to an event in the past or one still to come. Finally, he completes the first sentence, perhaps only then identifying the main actor.

I just couldn't keep jumping around, even though I spent over a month taking it in 15 minute increments. Finally, I gave up after three quarters of the book -- since I have written on both systems, I know for a fact that they were completed.

Had Mr. Most just alternated the stories of the two cities, chapter by chapter, the structure would have been much more understandable and would have done justice to a marvelous engineering achievement.

Robert C. Ross
February 2014
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Well Researched, but Not Engrossing 1 janvier 2014
Par Gypsi Phillips Bates - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Mr. Most has written an apparently well researched study on an interesting topic, the building of the U.S.'s first subway. The Race Underground is subtitled "the incredible rivalry that built America's first subway", with the blurb stating "A Great American Saga--two rival cities, two brothers, both with plans to build a subway underground. Who will be first?" From these, the reader is naturally led to expect a tale of tension and excitement as the brothers race to build the very first American subway.

I must first confess that my preference* is for the newer trend of presenting scholarly works in a livelier, more pleasant to read, manner. (Eric Larson, Thomas Cahill and Debra Hamill, for example.) Based on the book information, I did expect The Race Underground to fall into this category and to be a captivating history of these brothers and their saga.

To my disappointment, Mr. Most presented his topic in a more conservative style, presenting facts without as much of a "story" as the blurb indicated, at time digressing unnecessarily, and in general not living up to the title of "race" or "incredible rivalry". Therefore, while I did find the subject itself interesting, I found the actual book to be a somewhat laborious read.

* To forestall any comments, I will note that this preference is that of personal taste and not due to lack of education or to an ignorance of historical subjects; I do hold a B.A. in history, though not in this particular time period.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good Story and History, of Business and Politics and Technology and Transportation 20 janvier 2014
Par A Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
When reading Theodore Dreiser's "The Financier", "The Titan" and "The Stoic", I enjoyed the parts pertaining to the maneuvering around streetcar contracts (based on Charles Yerkes). "The Race Underground" gave me more of this maneuverings, this time for the subways of Boston and New York. I'm not sure about the "incredible rivalry" that the title suggests, but even as a lifelong New Yorker I learned much about my own city's transportation history, as well as that of Boston. It seems incredible that entire systems were built in such a short amount of time, over a century ago. Today it can take a generation or more to build a single line (Second Avenue, anyone?).
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