In the late nineteenth century, as cities like Boston and New York grew larger, the streets became increasingly clogged with horse-drawn carts. When the great blizzard of 1888 brought New York City to a halt, a solution had to be found. Two brothers—Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York City—pursued the dream of his city being the first American metropolis to have a subway and the great race was on. The competition between Boston and New York was played out in an era not unlike our own, one of economic upheaval, job losses, bitter political tensions, and the question of America’s place in the world.
The Race Underground is peopled with the famous, like Boss Tweed, and Thomas Edison, and the not-so-famous, like the countless ”sandhogs” who dug and blasted into the earth’s crust, sometimes losing their lives in the process of building the subway’s tunnels. Doug Most chronicles the science of the subway, looks at fears people had about travelling underground and tells a story as exciting as any ever ripped from the pages of U.S. history. The Race Underground is a great American saga of two rival American cities, the powerful interests within, and an invention that changed the lives of millions.