Tunneling to the Future

The Story of the Great Subway Expansion That Saved New York

442 pages

35 illustrations

April, 2002

ISBN: 9780814719541



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Peter Derrick is Archivist for the Bronx County Historical Society.

All books by Peter Derrick

In 1910, New York City was bursting at the seams as more and more people crowded into a limited supply of housing in the tenement districts of Manhattan and the older areas of Brooklyn. With no outlet for its exploding population, and the burgeoning social problems created by the overwhelming congestion, New York faced a serious crisis which city and state leaders addressed with dramatic measures. In March 1913, public officials and officers of the two existing rapid transit networks shook hands to seal a deal for a greatly expanded subway system which would more than double the size of the two existing transit networks.

At the time the largest and most expensive single municipal project ever attempted, the Dual System of Rapid Transit set the pattern of growth in New York City for decades to come, helped provide millions of families a better quality of life, and, in the words of Manhattan borough president George McAneny (1910-1913), "proved the city's physical salvation." It stands as that rare success story, an enormously complicated project undertaken against great odds which proved successful beyond all measure.

Published in conjunction with the History of the City of New York Project.


  • "An exceptional history . . . Derrick's well-written narrative is packed with thoroughly researched facts and reasoning."

    Library Journal

  • "...a valuable case study in the micropolitics of one of the Progressive era's signature projects."

    The Wall Street Journal

  • "[An] excellent addition to the literature of the city's planning, development and economics."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "As the most detailed and thorough account available of the dual system, Derrick's book has improved out understanding of rapid transit politics and urban planning."

    The Journal of American History, June 2002

  • "Reveals not only the details of the subway movement's slow progress in the political arena, but the process of coming to terms with the private subway companies and their financial backers in 1913.”