As Chicago's elevated "Loop" is so much a part of the gritty image of the City of Big Shoulders, the New York subway system is indelibly linked with the modern conurbation that is the Big Apple. It was 100 years ago on October 27, 1904, that the first subway trip on the new system took place, and the city is celebrating the system's centennial in style. Today the system has more miles of track than any underground system in the world and carries 4.5 million passengers daily throughout the city. Of course, the system has seen its ups and downs throughout the past decades, and to some who rode the trains in the 1960s and 1970s, the then graffiti-inscribed trains may have seemed to serve as a rather visible sign of urban decay. Currently, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (which was created in 1982 to oversee the subway system) is building a new $16 billion line that will follow Second Avenue as a way to relieve congestion. A comment made by one rider this past week as he exited the F train perhaps best sums up how many people feel about the system: "For New Yorkers, it's part of life."The first link offered here leads to a news piece from this week's Christian Science Monitor that talks about the historical development of New York's subway system in the early 20th century. The second link will take visitors to a New York Post article that talks about the new "Ms. Subways," Caroline Sanchez-Bernat. The contest fell out of favor in the mid-1970s, but was revived this year as part of the centennial celebration for the transit system. On a more sober note, the third link leads to an article from the Columbia (University) Spectator that talks about the massive debt problem faced by the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The fourth link is a nice special audio feature created by National Public Radio that explores the subway's presence in song and film over the past century. Visitors to the site can hear excerpts of such classics as Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train" and "New York's My Home," as sung by Sammy Davis Jr. The fifth link leads to a great site (maintained by David Pirmann) that contains copious amount of material about the vast subway system in New York, including historical transit maps, information about the subway train stock, and how the system operates. The final site leads to a site that provides ample information about the various ongoing events, museum exhibits, and talks that have been planned to celebrate the system's centennial.


  • Social Studies > General
  • Social Studies > United States History

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