Tag Archives: Construction

When The New York City Subway Opened On October 27, 1904

20 Cool Facts About The New York City Subway When It Was Brand New

"What The Subway Means To New York City" New York Evening World October 27, 1904 (click to enlarge)

“What The Subway Means To New York” New York Evening World October 27, 1904 (click to enlarge)

109 years ago on October 27, 1904, the New York City Subway was opened to an enthusiastic public with great fanfare and accolades.

New Yorker’s were proud of this engineering sensation and its features were highlighted in newspapers and magazines around the world.

On the occasion of the opening, the New York Evening World published a “Subway Souvenir Special” to commemorate the event. With articles describing many aspects of the subway, the special issue compiled a list of 100 facts about the subway. Here are some of the better ones:

1. In 1894 the people of New York voted to create a tunnel for a subway which was to be owned by the city. After six years of preliminary work by the Rapid Transit Commission, bids were accepted to build and operate the subway on November 15, 1899.

2. Only two companies bid for the job. John B. McDonald and the Onderdonk Construction Company. McDonald’s bid was accepted January 15, 1900.

3. McDonald proposed to construct the tunnels for $35 million with an additional $2,750,000 for station sites, terminals and other incidentals.

4. The money for the construction was loaned by the city. It was to be paid back with interest in fifty years.

5. McDonald organized a construction company with August Belmont as its president. Another company within this company, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) was organized to operate the subway.

6. The IRT had the privilege of operating the system for 50 years, with an option for a 25 year renewal. When the subway passed into the hands of the people, the equipment was to be purchased by the city at a valuation to be determined by arbitration.

7. McDonald sublet the construction to thirteen sub-contractors. Ground was broken March 25, 1900 in front of City Hall.

8. McDonald pledged to have the subway ready in four and a half years. The actual time spent on construction was only 1275 days.

9. The final amount spent was just $40 million.

Union Square June 8, 1901 Subway Construction

Union Square June 8, 1901 Subway Construction

10. There were 120 lives lost during the construction. Continue reading

Old New York in Photos #32

1915 Subway Explosion Kills Seven, Injures Scores: 7th Avenue Between 24th and 25th Streets

This photograph taken on September 24, 1915 looking east across Seventh Avenue between 25th and 24th Streets shows the extent of a tragedy that took the lives of seven people and injured more than 100.

At about 7:50 a.m. on September 22, 1915 during the subway excavation for a new line, an explosion followed by a massive street collapse threw 7th Avenue into a scene of pandemonium and carnage.  A blast of dynamite caused the temporary roadway of wood planking to give way. A trolley loaded with passengers plunged 30 feet into the abyss created by the cave in. A beer truck minus the driver also fell into the excavation.

The reason more people were not killed was because the street undulated for a few seconds before collapsing which allowed precious time for people on the street to scatter to safety.

The motorman of the northbound trolley, John Mayne said, “The car sank just where I stopped it. I had no stop at Twenty-fourth street and there was no warning there. When I was half way to Twenty-fifth street I saw a flagman and set my brakes. As I set the brakes I felt the earth going from under me. The next thing I knew I was being pulled out of hell.”

Fanny Borie, 18,  of Brooklyn was on the trolley, on her way to work when it went down into the hole. “When the car started to sink there were terrible screams, and I think I fainted,” she said. “I remember feeling people tugging at my feet, as I was buried under some timbers. Then I lost consciousness and came to again when I was being carried up a ladder to the street.” Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #23

Subway Excavation, Broadway and 49th Street – 1901

While the MTA is currently striving to build the new Second Avenue subway without disturbing businesses along the route, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) had no such compunction about hampering businesses as demonstrated by this photograph taken on November 26, 1901.

We are looking north along Broadway towards 49th Street. The J.B. Brewster Carriage showroom is on the left at 1581 Broadway. The “cut and cover method” of subway building is shown here in full swing. More than half the street is blocked off to dig the necessary trench.

This method of building, which disturbed all the utilities, businesses, and residents along the route, was not only cost effective, but fast.

Ground Breaking Ceremony Brochure 1900

It took less than four and a half years for the original subway line, nine miles in length, to be completed. Ground breaking for the subway occurred March 24, 1900 and the first section from City Hall to 145th Street was opened to the public on October 26, 1904.  According to the book Interborough Rapid Transit The New York Subway Its Construction and Equipment (McGraw Publishing; 1904) the amount paid by the city for the construction was $35,000,000 and an additional sum was given not to exceed $2,750,000 for terminals, station sites, and other purposes.

It was an amazing accomplishment considering what New Yorker’s are currently putting up with just to build a two mile section of a new subway on Second Avenue.

First New York Subway Map 1904

MTA Propaganda

Open For Business  ** Shop 2nd Ave ** It’s Worth It!

A cryptic poster on a city bus that says absolutely nothing. Typical of the MTA.

The punishment for the person who wrote this slogan should be to live in an apartment adjacent to the constant construction.

Below is the text of this MTA sign pictured above that “encourages” shoppers.

The many interesting shops, restaurants and services on Second Avenue are open while MTA Capital Construction builds the Second Avenue Subway. Shop Second Avenue. It’s Worth It!

Visit mta.info and click on the Capital Construction link for more about your local shops, restaurants and services.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is a partner with MTA Capital Construction in support of local establishments as construction continues on the Second Avenue Subway.

This is going to convince anyone to shop in the construction zone?

Lame signs do not get people to shop in an area that is having many of its businesses being decimated by the constant construction for the Second Avenue Subway project. The poor business owners and residents along the construction route have suffered since 2007 and many stores have gone under in the intervening four-plus years.

Solutions, Not Signs

More people might patronize the establishments on Second Avenue if the MTA didn’t in a prima facie way, block access to the stores along the construction path. One side of certain streets appear to be inaccessible. Maybe the MTA could cut down on the hours that allowed filth and noise to be generated. Or just make a conscious effort to make the streets more inviting by not chopping the sidewalks to half their normal width and blocking re-routing crosswalks, making it difficult for pedestrians to stroll.

Plus the area is just plain ugly. It seems little or no thought was given into making the avenue look more appealing.  The fences, walls and temporary banners give Second Avenue a very shabby appearance. In many places Second Avenue looks more like a post-war zone, not a construction zone.

Originally the MTA projected the first phase from 105th Street to 72nd Street of the Second Avenue subway would be completed in 2014.  It is of course delayed and over budget. If they don’t run out of funds it might be completed by June 2018.

One side note: the entire first phase of the original New York City subway from City Hall to 145th Street, (almost nine miles) was built in just over four years from March 27, 1900 – October 26, 1904.