American Experience

Alfred Beach's Subway Plan

Clip: Season 9 | 1m 31s

The first effort to build an experimental subway dates back to the 1850s when inventor Alfred Ely Beach argued that a horse-drawn subway, under Broadway, would put an end to congestion and the filth of New York City’s streets. By the 1860s, Beach had a different idea: a pneumatic subway, pulled by a rope of air. A giant fan would drive a train through a tunnel, as fast as 10 miles per hour.

Aired: 02/17/97

Rating: NR

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