The subject of City Railroads is becoming one of such absorbing and universal interest that we cannot well allow the present occa sion te pass by without a few remarks. A fresh impetus has been likewise lately given by the counter movement of the Legislature, rendering nugatory the attempts of the Corpo ration to foist upon us an unjust and corrupt scheme of their own concocting, by which no body would have been benefitted but them selves and their patrons. Plans of a similar description we will never uphold, and there fore we are rejoiced to see that a superior and more honest party has stepped in to prevent a gross injustice ; the Legislature, by their in terference, have proved themselves worthy of their station, and of the confidence reposed in their integrity by the people of New York. It is not, however, upon the Broadway Rail road that we wish merely to comment, nor to confine our remarks simply to a single scheme, but to the subject of City Railroads in gene ral. This, as yet a comparatively new field of enterprize, is daily becomingof paramount im portance, and the railroad appears soon des tined to be as ordinary a system of convey ance through our streets as along the high ways. The demand for this almost indispen sable accommodation is becoming general in large cities, and is not confined to ourselves, although New York is more favorably built for their formation than many other places, the width and straightness of the streets al lowing of city railroads at a very little com parative expense. In London, the huge capi tal of England, the same outcry is being raised for railroad accommodation, and although, from the position of the business part, called " the city," which is placed centrally, there is not so urgent a necessity for railroads as with us, yet it is probable that railroads con necting the different parts of that metropolis, will eventually be made. Different schemes have been proposed for this purpose, as the narrowness of the streets, and the numerous buildings crowded in the rear, forming courts and alleys, present a formidable obstacle. Any railroad in that city must, therefore, be carried over the houses or else be tunnelled under ground, and it is proposed in the London " Ar-tizan " to effect this object by the first-named method. This however, is not altogether an original plan, for two short lines of railway, the Greenwich and Blackwall are built in this manner, and are carried over the streets and houses—mdash;in the case of the Greenwich Rail way by brick arches, and of the Blackwall railway partly bycast-ironcolumns and girders. This latter plan is proposed in the " Artizan," with the additional improvement that a street underneath should be built by the railroad company, which could be lighted both from the sides and the top, for which purpose a large part of the railway surface could be flagged with thick glass. How far such a plan would succeed we are not prepared to say, but we see nothing impracticable in the method, and we suggest something of the kind to our city railroad projectors. If objections are raised to railroads in crowded thorough fares like Broadway, it would be easy to form a viaduet, either quite level or with a suffi cient incline, as might appear desirable. In the case of the two railroads alluded to, the stations forming the termini in London are above the tops of the highest houses, and a si- milar plan could be adopted here, the passen gers, goods, —c, could be lowered by a mova ble platform to the level of the street if a proper incline could not be obtained from want of space. The viaduct railroad might be more expensive than one made on the ground, but it possesses many advantages for a crowd ed thoroughfare like Broadway, it would not interfere with the ordinary traffic, and the lo comotive could be employed the whole dis tance, thus saving the cost of horses and dri vers, which amounts to a large item in the ex penses of the New Haven, Harlem, and Hud son River Railroads.
This article was originally published with the title "City Railroads" in Scientific American 8, 22, 173 (February 1853)