The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (Google eBook)

Front Cover
JHU Press, Apr 1, 2008 - History - 376 pages
23 Reviews

Drivers in the nation's capital face a host of hazards: high-speed traffic circles, presidential motorcades, jaywalking tourists, and bewildering signs that send unsuspecting motorists from the Lincoln Memorial into suburban Virginia in less than two minutes. And parking? Don't bet on it unless you're in the fast lane of the Capital Beltway during rush hour.

Little wonder, then, that so many residents and visitors rely on the Washington Metro, the 106-mile rapid transit system that serves the District of Columbia and its inner suburbs. In the first comprehensive history of the Metro, Zachary M. Schrag tells the story of the Great Society Subway from its earliest rumblings to the present day, from Arlington to College Park, Eisenhower to Marion Barry.

Unlike the pre–World War II rail systems of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the Metro was built at a time when most American families already owned cars, and when most American cities had dedicated themselves to freeways, not subways. Why did the nation's capital take a different path? What were the consequences of that decision?

Using extensive archival research as well as oral history, Schrag argues that the Metro can be understood only in the political context from which it was born: the Great Society liberalism of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The Metro emerged from a period when Americans believed in public investments suited to the grandeur and dignity of the world's richest nation. The Metro was built not merely to move commuters, but in the words of Lyndon Johnson, to create "a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community."

Schrag scrutinizes the project from its earliest days, including general planning, routes, station architecture, funding decisions, land-use impacts, and the behavior of Metro riders. The story of the Great Society Subway sheds light on the development of metropolitan Washington, postwar urban policy, and the promises and limits of rail transit in American cities.

  

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Review: The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro

User Review  - Emily - Goodreads

I've been taking metro for 8 years, disembarking at Judiciary Square every morning, but until I read this book I had no idea that was the first station of the 103-mile system. This book is a ... Read full review

Review: The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro

User Review  - Tom - Goodreads

A pretty good read. Focused more than I would have liked on the politics of construction but I liked the details on the construction itself and the people aspects of the design. Read full review

Contents

The City 17911955
11
The Plans 19551965
32
The Stations 19651967
65
The Region 19661967
95
The Bridge 19661971
119
The Builders 19721976
142
The Money 19721980
171
The District
196
The Suburbs
221
The Riders
243
Conclusion
273
Notes
285
Index
347
Copyright

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Page 6 - The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves— in their separate, and individual capacities.
Page 2 - It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.
Page 29 - Local 1138 of the Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway & Motor Coach Employees of America, AFL-CIO, and I have been designated as its representative to appear here in support of S.

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About the author (2008)

Zachary M. Schrag is a professor of history at George Mason University.

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