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A Life in Sail and Steam
The Journey from Board of Transportation to MTA
Streetcars “are as dead as sailing ships,” said Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in a radio speech, two days before Madison Avenue’s streetcars yielded to buses. LaGuardia was determined eliminate streetcars, demolish pre-1900 elevated lines, and unify the subway system, which became reality in 1940 when the separate IRT, BMT, and IND became one giant system under full public control._x000B__x000B_In this fascinating micro-history of New York’s transit system, author Andrew Sparberg examines twenty specific events between 1940 and 1968, bookended by subway unification and the MTA’s creation. From a Nickel to a Token depicts a potpourri of well-remembered, partially forgotten, and totally obscure happenings drawn from the historical tapestry of New York mass transit. Sparberg deftly captures five boroughs of grit, chaos, and emotion grappling with a massive and unwieldy transit system_x000B_ _x000B_During these decades, the system morphed into today’s network. The public sector absorbed most private surface lines operating within the five boroughs, and buses completely replaced streetcars. Elevated lines were demolished, replaced by subways or along Manhattan’s Third Avenue, not at all. Beyond the unification of the IND, IRT, and BMT, strategic track connections were built between lines to allow a more flexible and unified operation. The oldest subway routes received much-needed rehabilitation work. Thousands of new subway cars and buses were purchased. The sacred nickel fare barrier was broken, and by 1968 a ride cost twenty cents._x000B_ _x000B_From LaGuardia to Lindsay, mayors devoted much energy to solving transit problems, keeping fares low, and appeasing voters, fellow elected officials, transit managements, and labor leaders. Simultaneously, American society was experiencing tumultuous times, manifested by labor disputes, economic pressures, and civil rights protests._x000B__x000B_Featuring many photos never before published, From a Nickel to a Token is a historical trip back in time to a multitude of important events.
Railroads and the Birth of Fargo and Moorhead
In the 1860s, land speculators in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory expected that a great city would rise where the railroad crossed the Red River of the North. In 1872, after the Northern Pacific Railroad laid its first tracks across the river, it brought settlers, capital, and access to Eastern markets and gave birth to the twin cities of Moorhead and Fargo.
Historian Carroll Engelhardt’s Gateway to the Northern Plains chronicles the story of Fargo and Moorhead’s birth and growth. Once just specks on the vast landscape of the Northern Plains, these twin cities prospered, teeming with their own dynamic culture, economy, and politics. Moorhead was the first, boosted by railroad manager Thomas Hawley Canfield, who touted it as superior to Fargo. Amid disputes and deals with entrepreneurs, the railroad company provided land for public schools and churches to speed the refinement of the settlement. Despite Moorhead’s earlier start, Northern Pacific Railway chose Fargo as its headquarters, and it became the “Gateway City” to North Dakota.
Development in the cities was not always harmonious. As the population increased, so did the pressure to conform to middle-class values. Residents joined together to create community churches and schools, clashing with migratory harvest workers, usually single men, who patronized saloons, brothels, and gambling dens. Outraged citizens worked to eliminate such antisocial behavior and establish moral order.
Though the dominant Twin Cities to the south limited Fargo and Moorhead’s size and success, settlers from far and wide poured in, creating a diverse population and vital culture. There are many histories of major U.S. cities, but in Gateway to the Northern Plains Engelhardt reveals how the small cities of the plains have made their mark on the country as well as on the reality—and the myth—of the American West.
Carroll Engelhardt is professor emeritus of history at Concordia College, Moorhead. He is the author of On Firm Foundation Grounded: The First Century of Concordia College (1891–1991).
William J. Wilgus and the Planning of Modern Manhattan
Few people have had as profound an impact on the history of New York City as William J. Wilgus. As chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad, Wilgus conceived the Grand Central Terminal, the city’s magnificent monument to America’s Railway Age. Kurt C. Schlichting here examines the remarkable career of this innovator, revealing how his tireless work moving people and goods over and under Manhattan Island’s surrounding waterways forever changed New York’s bustling transportation system. After his herculean efforts on behalf of Grand Central, the most complicated construction project in New York’s history, Wilgus turned to solving the city’s transportation quandary: Manhattan—the financial, commercial, and cultural hub of the United States in the twentieth century—was separated from the mainland by two major rivers to the west and east, a deep-water estuary to the south, and the Harlem River to the north. Wilgus believed that railroads and mass transportation provided the answer to New York City’s complicated geography. His ingenious ideas included a freight subway linking rail facilities in New Jersey with manufacturers and shippers in Manhattan, a freight and passenger tunnel connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, and a belt railway interconnecting sixteen private railroads serving the metropolitan area. Schlichting’s deep passion for Wilgus and his engineering achievements are evident in the pages of this fascinating work. Wilgus was a true pioneer, and Schlichting ensures that his brilliant contributions to New York City’s transportation system will not be forgotten.
For the first time, a historian and seasoned mariner looks beyond the specific circumstances of individual shipwrecks in an effort to reach a clearer understanding of the economic, political, and psychological factors that have influenced the 25,000 wrecks on the Great Lakes over the past 300 years. Looking at the entire tragic history of shipwrecks on North America's expansive inland seas, from the 1679 loss of the Griffon to the mysterious sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975, Mark L. Thompson concludes that a wreck is not an isolated event. In Graveyard of the Lakes, Thompson suggests that most of the accidents and deaths on the lakes have been the result of human error, ranging from simple mistakes to gross incompetence. In addition to his compelling analysis of the causes of shipwrecks, Thompson includes factual accounts of more than one hundred wrecks. Graveyard of the Lakes will forever change the reader's perspective on shipwrecks.
Wall Street’s Great Railroad War
In 1901, the Northern Pacific was an unlikely prize: a twice-bankrupt construction of the federal government, it was a two-bit railroad (literally—five years back, its stock traded for twenty-five cents a share). But it was also a key to connecting eastern markets through Chicago to the rising West. Two titans of American railroads set their sights on it: James J. Hill, head of the Great Northern and largest individual shareholder of the Northern Pacific, and Edward Harriman, head of the Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific. The subsequent contest was unprecedented in the history of American enterprise, pitting not only Hill against Harriman but also Big Oil against Big Steel and J. P. Morgan against the Rockefellers, with a supporting cast of enough wealthy investors to fill the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria.
The story, told here in full for the first time, transports us to the New York Stock Exchange during the unfolding of the earliest modern-day stock market panic. Harriman vs. Hill re-creates the drama of four tumultuous days in May 1901, when the common stock of the Northern Pacific rocketed from one hundred ten dollars a share to one thousand in a mere seventeen hours of trading—the result of an inadvertent “corner” caused by the opposing forces. Panic followed and then, in short order, a calamity for the “shorts,” a compromise, the near-collapse of Wall Street brokerages and banks, the most precipitous decline ever in American stock values, and the fastest recovery. Larry Haeg brings to life the ensuing stalemate and truce, which led to the forming of a holding company, briefly the biggest railroad combine in American history, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the deal, launching the reputation of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as the “great dissenter” and President Theodore Roosevelt as the “trust buster.” The forces of competition and combination, unfettered growth, government regulation, and corporate ambition—all the elements of American business at its best and worst—come into play in the account of this epic battle, whose effects echo through our economy to this day.
Paving the Way for Tourism in the Islands
Hawai‘i’s Scenic Roads examines a century of overland transportation from the kingdom’s first constitutional government until World War II, discovering how roads in the world’s most isolated archipelago rivaled those on the continental U.S. Building Hawai‘ i’s roads was no easy feat, as engineers confronted a unique combination of circumstances: extreme isolation, mountainous topography, torrential rains, deserts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and on Haleakalā, freezing temperatures.
By investigating the politics and social processes that facilitated road projects, Hawai‘i’s Scenic Roads explains that foreign settlers wanted roads to “civilize” the Hawaiians and promote economic development, specifically agriculture. Once sugar became the dominant driver, civic and political leaders turned their attention to constructing scenic roads. Viewed as “commercial enterprises,” scenic byways became an essential factor in establishing tourism as Hawai‘i’s “third crop” after sugar and pineapple. These thoroughfares also served as playgrounds for the islands’ elite residents and wealthy visitors who could afford the luxury of carriage driving, and after 1900, motorcars.
Duensing’s provocative analysis of the 1924 Hawai‘i Bill of Rights reveals that roads played a critical role in redefining the Territory of Hawai‘i’s status within the United States. Politicians and civic leaders focused on highway funding to argue that Hawai‘i was an “integral part of the Union,” thus entitled to be treated as if it were a state. By accepting this Bill of Rights, Congress confirmed the territory’s claim to access federal programs, especially highway aid. Washington’s involvement in Hawai‘i increased subsequently, as did the islands’ dependence on the national government. Federal money helped the territory weather the Great Depression as it became enmeshed in New Deal programs and philosophy. Although primarily an economic protest, the Hawai‘i Bill of Rights was a crucial stepping stone on the path to eventual statehood in 1959.
At the core of this book is the intriguing tales of road projects that established the islands' most renowned scenic drives, including the Pali Highway, byways around Kīlauea Volcano, Haleakalā Highway, and the Hāna Belt Road. The author’s unique approach provides a fascinating perspective for understanding Hawai‘i’s social dynamics, as well as its political, environmental, and economic history.
Although Henry Ford gloried in the limelight of highly publicized achievement, he privately admitted, "I don't do so much, I just go around lighting fires under other people." Henry's Lieutenants features biographies of thirty-five "other people" who served Henry Ford in a variety of capacities, and nearly all of whom contributed to his fame. These biographical sketches and career highlights reflect the people of high caliber employed by Henry Ford to accomplish his goals: Harry Bennett, Albert Kahn, Ernest Kanzler, William S. Knudsen, and Charles E. Sorenson, among others. Most were employed by the Ford Motor Company, although a few of them were Ford's personal employees satisfying concurrent needs of a more private nature, including his farming, educational, and sociological ventures. Ford Bryan obtained a considerable amount of the material in this book from the oral reminiscences of the subjects themselves.