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July 25, 2005

Subterranean Pneumatic Apparatus


"Certainly the most novel, if not the most successful, enterprise that New York has seen for many a day is the Pneumatic Tunnel under Broadway. A myth or humbug it has been called by everybody who has been excluded from its interior;  but hereafter the incredulous public can have the opportunity of examining and judging its merits.  Yesterday the tunnel was thrown open to the inspection of visitors for the first time, and it must be said that every one of them came away surprised and gratified. Such as expected a dismal and cavernous retreat under Broadway, opened their eyes at the elegant reception-room, the light, airy tunnel, and the general appearance of taste and comfort in all the apartments;  and those who entered to pick out some scientific flaw in the project, were silenced by the completeness of the machinery, the solidity of the work, and the safety of the running apparatus..."

The New York Times, at the opening of New York's Pneumatic Subway
February 26, 1870
It's almost hard to believe – and yet, it's so whimsically delightful – a subway car, sealed off in a big tube, propelled by nothing else but tons and tons (and tons) of air. One is simply blown to one's destination!

For more info, stop by Joseph Brennan's extraordinarily well-researched (and fun) website on the subject.

July 25, 2005 | Permalink


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Amazing. The thought of a pneumatic subways crossed my mind after seeing the systems set up at drive-thru teller locations for carrying deposites and withdrawls. I always marveled that it would be a fun means of transportation. Ever trip would end with a satisfying "THhOOMP". Little did I know I was 120+ years behind the times.

Posted by: munkey | Jul 27, 2005 3:44:32 PM

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