Thursday, July 28, 2011

NYC Vintage Image: The Precarious Early Days Of The NYC Subway

How the hell did they ever build the New York subway, anyway? The notion of burrowing under established streets, digging deep & precise tunnels and engineering a public transportation system at the beginning in the 20th Century—which continues to transport hundreds of thousands of passengers today—is mind-boggling.

However, as we see in this series of photos from Life magazine, it wasn't always easy going... Above, in 1920, two elevated subway trains collided at a right angle, one of several deadly disasters within a few years time.
1900: Excavation of the Seventh Avenue subway line came to a halt when a taxi lost control and veered into the work site. At that point, construction workers used a cut-and-cover method, which required them to dig into sediment, create a passageway for the subway, then rebuild the road above it.1915: A dynamite blast caused the overhead road to cave in on the Seventh Avenue subway line, sending a streetcar collapsing onto the rubble. Seven died and nearly 100 were injured.
1900: Yikes! It all started with a single train line, the Interborough Rapid Transit, on Oct. 27, 1904, running from City Hall to 145th Street. This is scaffolding precariously balanced inside a newly excavated tunnel.

Some things never change: Times Square at rush hour in 1940; and Coney Island-bound in 1948.