The Broadway Pneumatic Underground Railway – the Start of the New York Subway System

       Many of us know that the New York Subway has been operating for more than 100 years, with the first underground lines beginning operation in 1904.  However, few of us realize that a subway test line had been in existence 30 years earlier. 

       Inventor Alfred E. Beach – also the editor of Scientific American magazine – had demonstrated an air-driven system at the 1867 American Institute Fair.  He was so confident that it could be used as a mass transit system in New York City that he applied for a permit to construct it.  The permit was denied, but that didn’t stop him; he began construction secretly (the permit was later granted), and the 300-foot tunnel under Broadway was constructed in only 58 days.  It was operated as a demonstration for 3 years, and some people contend that it – along with advances in electric traction and locomotives – helped fuel the groundbreaking for the IRT Subway line in 1900. 

       A great piece of New York history!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back often – I write and post every day!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don,  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out! 

And to view updated blogs in real-time, go to or – they’re both great sites! 

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer 

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death in The Cloisters (under construction)

Nathan Hale


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