NYC Subway: from 1870 to 2020
By Lucas Compan
Did you know that we could all be zipping around the city today in mini hyper loops? This was the early concept for the New York subway.
The NYC subway in 1870
The Interborough Rapid Transit subway (IRT), which broke ground in 1900, was not the first attempt at transit tunneling in New York City. Several other groups attempted to build tunnel lines with varying degrees of success.
Listen to this story
In the 1870s, NYC briefly experimented with underground pneumatic transport. The underground tubes were similar to what you might find at a drive-through bank today. A prototype of the tube was even built along Broadway that curious New Yorkers could try out for themselves.
The Beach tunnel was constructed in only 58 days, starting under Warren Street and Broadway, directly across from City Hall. The station was under the south sidewalk of Warren Street just west of the Broadway corner. The subway opened to the public on February 26, 1870. Gratings in the sidewalk on Warren Street indicate some vault or ventilation areas are down there today.