Boston Vs. New York: The Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway

A trial run from Park Street Station in 1897. (Boston Public Library/Flickr)

A trial run from Park Street Station in 1897. (Boston Public Library/Flickr)

As you wait for the T at the Boylston or Park Street stations, you may not realize that you’re waiting on a piece of a history.

No — not the trains themselves, but the tunnels in which they travel, which were a focal point of America’s first subway system.

The system’s construction was fraught with bribery, publicity and numerous accidents — but was fueled largely by an ongoing rivalry between Boston and New York — a city that was working on building its own subway system.


Doug Most, deputy managing editor for features at The Boston Globe. He’s author of “The Race Underground: Boston, New York and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway.” He tweets at @GlobeDougMost.


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