The Routes Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City's Unbuilt Subway System

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Fordham Univ Press, Dec 1, 2013 - Transportation - 336 pages
A fascinating journey into the past—and under the ground—that offers “an insightful look at the what-might-have-beens of urban mass transit” (The New York Times).
From the day it broke ground by City Hall in 1900, it took about four and half years to build New York’s first subway line to West 145th Street in Harlem. Things rarely went that quickly ever again.
The Routes Not Taken explores the often-dramatic stories behind unbuilt or unfinished subway lines. The city’s efforts to expand its underground labyrinth were often met with unexpected obstacles—financial shortfalls, clashing political agendas, battles with community groups, and more. After discovering a copy of the 1929 subway expansion map, Joseph B. Raskin began his own investigation into the city’s underbelly. Here he provides an extensively researched history of the Big Apple’s unfinished business. The Routes Not Taken sheds light on:
*the efforts to expand the Hudson Tubes into a full-fledged subway
*the Flushing line, and why it never made it past Flushing
*a platform under Brooklyn’s Nevins Street station unused for more than a century
*the 2nd Avenue line—long the symbol of dashed dreams—deferred countless times since the original plans were presented in 1929
Raskin reveals the personalities involved, explaining why Fiorello H. La Guardia couldn’t grasp the importance of subway lines and why Robert Moses found them old and boring. By focusing on unbuilt lines, he illustrates how the existing system is actually a Herculean feat of countless compromises. Filled with illustrations, this is an enduring contribution to the history of transportation and the history of New York City.

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Selected pages


Building and Not Building New York Citys Subway System
The Unbuilt BrooklynQueens Crosstown Line
Why the No 7 Line Stops in Flushing
The Battle of the Northeast Bronx Part 1
Buy Land Now Ride the Subway Later
Ashland Place and the Mysteries of 76th Street
To the City Limits and Beyond
The Battle of the Northeast Bronx Part 2
Building the Line That Almost Never
Other Plans Other Lines Other Issues in the Postwar Years
What Happened to the Rest of the System?

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About the author (2013)

Joseph B. Raskin is an independent scholar. He is widely regarded as an authority on unbuilt subway systems, on which he has been interviewed by the New York Times. He is Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations for MTA New York City Transit.

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