MANHATTAN ISLAND is long and narrow, with the business district in the lower parts of the city and the homes in the upper part. This presents a most difficult transportation problem. Morning and evening the human flood sets south and north, and the surface and elevated lines are congested. The solution of the problem has been found in the pro-vision of underground rapid transit systems. Plans for the first under-ground road were adopted in 1899, and the contract for building was awarded to John B. McDonald. The city paid a sum for the construction, and leased the road to the contractor for fifty years, under an arrangement by which at the expiration of that term the city will have received back the money paid for the road, and may then take over the equipment at a price fixed by arbitration. The work of construction was begun in 1900, and the road was in operation in 1904.
The Rapid Transit Railroad extends from the Battery north to Spuyten Duyvil Creek on the west, and Bronx Park on the east; and by connection with the Manhattan-Brooklyn Tunnel from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Beginning at the Battery the road follows Broadway to Park Row, thence up Park Row, with a loop in City Hall Park; Lafayette street, Fourth avenue, Park avenue, Forty-second street, Broadway to 169th street, West End avenue to Sherman's Creek, Ellwood avenue to Inwood street, Broadway to 230th street, Kingsbridge, and thence to Van Cortlandt Park, at 242d street and Broadway. At Io4th street the East Side Line diverges to Lenox avenue at Both street, then runs up Lenox avenue, under the Harlem River, and through 149th street, Westchester avenue, Southern boulevard and Boston Road to Bronx Park.
The Subway is rectangular, being 25 feet wide for the two-track sections, 50 feet wide for the four-track sections, and 13 feet high through-out. It has a concrete bed and a steel frame construction. Throughout most of the length the road was excavated from the surface. A trench was dug, the bottom was lined with a concrete flooring; then a rectangular framework of steel beams was erected, with concrete walls and roof; and on the outside were spread layers of asphalt and roofing felt. The Subway is thus for the most part a covered trench with the roof near the surface, and the stairs leading to the station platforms do not have longer flights than those of the elevated roads.
On Broadway, from Sixtieth to Io4th streets, the Subway is lighted by skylights in the center of the street. The tunneling is principally in the section under Central Park (at Columbus avenue and I04th street, 80 feet below the surface), and in the Fort Washington section, where the rock tunnel through the hill of gneiss along Broadway and Eleventh avenue, from 158th street to a point near Fort George, is two miles long, being next to the Hoosac Tunnel, the longest one in the United States. At 125th street the West Side Line emerges and crosses Manhattan Valley on a viaduct to 135th street, where it enters a tunnel, and at t9oth street is more than too feet below the surface. At 169th and 181st streets the stations are hollowed out of the solid rock Ito feet underground, and are reached by elevators. The tracks are carried under the Harlem River on two steel cylinder tubes encased in concrete.
The motive power is electricity (third-rail system). The running time from City Hall Park to Ninety-sixth street is 13 minutes for ex-press trains, and 21 minutes for local trains.
With a total length of 21 miles; Its construction was one of the great engineering enterprises of the twentieth century. The figures of the excavation and the construction are prodigious. There were 3,212,000 cubic yards of material to be taken out—1,200,000 of earth and 1,312,000 of rock. The construction called for 65,000 tons of steel, 8,000 tons of cast iron, 551,000 cubic yards of concrete, 910,000 square yards of water-proofing for making the Subway absolutely dry.
The largest stations are those at Brooklyn Bridge, Fourteenth street, and Io2d street. The stations are lined with tile, and a system of distinctive architecture and color 'schemes has been employed, so that a station may be known by its own particular wall colors.
At Thirty-fourth street and Park avenue is one of the most remark-able street intersection corners in the world. On the surface run the Thirty-fourth street cars. One flight down are the Madison avenue cars; two flights down the Rapid Transit Subway; and three flights down the Pennsylvania Railroad Tunnel.
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